STOCKHOLM — Christians around the world are being asked to help plead for the release of an 11-year-old boy who was abducted by government officials because his parents chose to homeschool the child.
As previously reported, Domenic Johansson was seized by the Swedish government in 2009 as he and his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, were boarding a plane to move to Annie’s homeland of India. He was only seven years old at the time, and social services state that they removed the child because he was being homeschooled by his parents.
The Johanssons were only allowed to see their son for one hour every five weeks. He was placed in foster care and forced to attend public school. The following year, the government cut off all parental visitations to Domenic.
In June 2012, a district court ruled that it could not ignore the fact that everyone who had testified about the Johansson’s care of Domenic proved that the family was doing just fine before the boy was removed from the home. However, the decision was later overturned on appeal and the Johanssons were again barred from seeing their son.
Since the ruling, the Johanssons have been struggling to face the reality of life without their son. The Virginia-based Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) states that the ordeal has been particularly difficult for Domenic’s mother.
“It is like a death sentence, except that Domenic is alive and just a few miles away from his mother,” stated HSLDA staff attorney Michael Donnely. “The strain on her is becoming unbearable. She is having increasingly frequent physical and mental breakdowns. I fear for her life.”
However, HSLDA says that changes in Sweden’s political representation have given the family a “glimmer of hope” in their efforts to regain custody of their son. Christer Johansson told the organization that he has been requesting an investigation into the way the case was handled out of his belief that officials may discover governmental misconduct or abuse of authority.
“The local social welfare board has inflicted damage on our family and others,” he stated. “I am hopeful that some of our local politicians will look more closely into these abuses and take action to correct these injustices. We have been without our only son for so long it is incredibly difficult for us. Especially my wife, whose health has been severely damaged by this ordeal. We are so grateful for the thoughts, prayers and intervention of others from abroad.”
As the European Court of Human Rights has thus far ignored requests for intervention, the Johansson’s and HSLDA believe that public outcry to local officials is worth a try.
“The seizure of the child without a valid court order from a plane he was lawfully entitled to be on, the detention by the state in foster care with virtually zero contact with his family and finally the termination of parental rights is a clear violation of international human rights standards,” outlined founder HSLDA Michael Farris.
Christians are asked to help plead for Domenic’s return by contacting Christina Godarve, the head of the Gotland Social Services board, at [email protected] and Gotland Regional Council member Hanna Westeren at [email protected]