Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweden and the prior right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children

Home schooling families in Sweden are experiencing an increasing level of state persecution however a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in a Swiss case is presenting a new level of hope for belegured Swedish families.

A leader of Sweden's Liberal Party recently called for a change in the country's social services law so that the government can take children away from home-schooling families more easily by allowing social workers to do so. 

The call for the change comes amidst already stringent penalties in Sweden for home schooling. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and have applied to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of one family whose child was abducted by the government in 2009 and have filed a brief in a Swedish appellate court on behalf of another family fined an amount equivalent to $26,000.

"The right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive is a fundamental human right recognized in international legal documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sweden has lost its way and is ignoring basic human rights joining Germany in repressing educational freedom. It's important that free people stand up to governments who persecute their own people," according to Michael Donnelly HSLDA Director of International Relations.

"Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children's education without government interference," said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. "Swedish policy on home education is at odds with recognized international legal standards that uphold the right of parents to direct the education of their children." 

Liberal Party politician Lotta Edholm called for the change to the country's social services law in a Jan. 10 column in Aftonbladet, a prominent Swedish newspaper. Edholm then wrote on her blog:
 "Today I write with Ann-Katrin Aslund on Aftonbladet's debate page that the social services law should be amended so that social services are able to intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents -- often for religious or ideological reasons." 

The statement is the most direct and serious threat to date for home-schooling families in the Nordic country, where the climate for home-schooling has continued to deteriorate. The Swedish Court of Appeal has agreed to review three different cases in which government officials denied permission to home-school. 

"ADF and HSLDA will continue to defend home-schooling families in Sweden and other European countries until we win," Donnelly said. 

A recent ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) however is giving  Swedish families new hope that their children, abducted by the government because they were home schooled, might be returned to them.

The court ruled in a Swiss case that children can be irreparably harmed if they are separated from their parents for more than three years. 

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) have intervened in a prominent Swedish case and are hopeful that the ECtHR decision will reverse the current draconian policy.
 In 2009, young Domenic Johansson was forcibly taken away from his parents because they were home schooling him. Roger Kiska of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), who has been defending the Johansson family, points out that everything about Dominic's education was legal.

"Not only was home schooling legal at the time -- it was limited, but it was legal -- but Dominic fit into all of the circumstances in which it was legal," he explains. "There was no evidence, no due process."

Since last week's ruling, Kiska has filed an emergency order with the European Court, demanding that Sweden return Dominic to his natural parents. And he thinks the request will play out in Christer and Annie's favor.

"It looks like the end is near for this three-year ordeal that this poor family has faced and the time to come to recognize this principle, hopefully throughout Europe and not just Sweden, that parents are the ones who should raise the children and not the state," the ADF attorney offers.

Swedish officials have not only restricted parental visits, but they have also made a motion to terminate the Johanssons' parental rights altogether. A Swedish court, however, denied that motion.

See further report on Free Sweden. Net