Oct 28, 2010

Guest Writer: Daniel Hammarberg

The Domenic case is far from unique
By Daniel Hammarberg, human rights activist and author of The Madhouse: A critical study of Swedish society

Since Sweden introduced barnavårdslagen, "the child welfare law," in 1924, the act which enabled the state to take children into custody without their parents' consent, quite a few Swedes have faced relocation into foster care on dubious grounds. As the supply of foster homes wasn't nearly enough to meet the new demands of the grandiose plans for solving societal ills through foster care, the state swiftly established orphanages where sometimes upwards of 30 children were brought up. In the mid 20th century, at the peak of the days of unbridled foster care, no less than one in 30 children at any given time resided in foster care - half of them in actual families, the other half in orphanages. Since then, the proportion of the total population has gone down somewhat, but these dreaded child institutions are still around, now referred to as HVB-hem - treatment homes.

Two opposite developments have taken place; on the one hand, the poverty that afflicted early 20th century Sweden was nearly eliminated during the 1950's and 60's. On the other hand, as the original reasons to take children into state custody were disappearing, social workers created new reasons to seize children. While before, children could be taken due to their parents not being able to afford their sustenance or outright physically abusing them, now questionable psychological theories on the development of children see the light of day, instead. Delusional Freudian beliefs are now used to justify separating a child from his or her family. As the legislation upon which the foster care system was based has progressed, not only is actual harm to the child used to make a case, but now also projections of psychologists on the future development of the child are heavily considered.

While the early incarnations of barnavårdslagen, "the child welfare law," were fairly specific on the grounds upon which to take a child into custody, these later developed into general clauses which in today's LVU law lets the government seize children if "... any other condition in the home" warrants it as per §2, or as far as the conduct of the child goes - "... any other socially destructive behaviour" as per §3. What is considered to meet these conditions is for the social workers as a profession to decide, and the administrative courts that try the cases rarely question the opinions of the social workers.

Any use of naked force and oppressive measures will eventually meet resistance, and in Sweden as a possible counter, we've witnessed the use of Newspeak for what was previously a blatantly controversial use of state authority. The 1924 law didn't mince words when it laid down the rules, and here children could be described as "degenerates." An orphanage was still called an orphanage, and society didn't need to disguise its aims to any noticeable degree. 

In today's society, the same public authority circulates such phrases as barnens bästa i centrum, "the best interests of the child," and similar. The government insists it's only doing what's right for the child these days, with little regard for birth family bonds which are so very critical for a growing human being, without which a person has little hope of becoming a well-adjusted adult. Children can be mercilessly torn from families where an independent observer will have little understanding for the state's actions. Perhaps "the best interests of the child" is merely Newspeak for the state's willingness to seize children from families that refuse to conform and cooperate with the state. The "care" it's felt that the children "need" is rather the oppressive measure of a covertly totalitarian state that's ensuring that society won't have to deal with functional families independent of the state, with the strength that's inherent in an intact nuclear family.

Over the years, several horror stories have emerged from the Swedish foster care system; in the 1970's, Sweden's political elite made use of girls placed at orphanages as prostitutes, some as young as 14 years old, in what was called the Geijer affair. In 1983, German magazine Der Spiegel published an extensive article entitled "Kinder-Gulag" im Sozialstaat Schweden on the state of foster care at the time, likening it to the Soviet system of Gulags. Back then, Europe still enjoyed good investigative journalism as well as a European Court of Human Rights that still had the ability to influence the way public authorities operated. Not so today, when mass media is oh so silent on the topic of foster care abuses, and the ECHR is virtually useless as an institution for the individual families to seek redress for their grievances due to being flooded with cases.

There have been other cases recently, similar to the Domenic one. During the summer of 2009, an Iranian man named Esmail and his Swedish wife Susanne, who have three children together, found these taken at the airport as they were leaving for Iran after having only made a brief stop in Sweden. An anonymous report about alleged child neglect had been made against them, and still today they've not been able to get their children back.

The future looks even more bleak. In a parliamentary bill the other year, 2008/09:So555, the Left Party of Sweden wanted to make it a crime attempting to leave Sweden with children who had legally been taken into state custody, and the authorities were going to be alerted whenever anyone with a LVU order on them attempted to leave, just like criminals. To support the bill, they quoted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the CRC. The bill was voted down, but overall when one browses the bills that have been written on the LVU law, they all have one thing in common - the call for greater jurisdiction and possibly more spending as well.

To learn more about the state of contemporary Swedish society, feel free to have a look at my new book "The Madhouse" where I cover all the things above in greater detail; for now only available as an E-book but soon to be available in print as well.


Or take a peek at my new blog at


Oct 20, 2010

Swedish court ignoring family

OneNewsNow: Swedish court ignoring family
Swedish Official at European Court may be blocking potentially embarrassing Johansson Hearing 

A Swedish home-schooling family has been trying to get their son back from foster care since he was taken away by authorities more than a year ago, but an attorney for the family believes the courts have turned a deaf ear to their situation.

A judge recently upheld the decision of Swedish social service officials to keep Domenic Johansson in foster care and away from his parents. Mike Donnelly, director of international relations and staff attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), tells OneNewsNow Domenic's parents have argued that they are a.....read more.

Oct 6, 2010

HSLDA Analysis of Sept 2 court opinion

HSLDA: Government’s Claws Dig Deeper in Johansson Case

On September 21, 2010, Swedish Administrative Court Chief Judge Peter Freudenthal handed down his decision in the case of Domenic Johansson of Gotland, Sweden, dashing the hopes of his parents for reunification with their son, who has been kept in foster care for over one year. Dominic was seized by Swedish authorities from the plane he and his parents had boarded as they were moving to India, his mother’s home country. Authorities cited untreated cavities in the boy’s teeth, failure to vaccinate, and homeschooling as reasons for taking him into custody.

After multiple appeals, Judge Freudenthal has upheld the decision of Swedish social services officials, who are the engineers behind the case. Domenic has been kept from his parents since June 25, 2009, and has only been allowed to visit with them once every five weeks with a supervised 15-minute telephone call once every two weeks. It has become increasingly apparent that the social workers have no real intention of reuniting this family, and that they have simply transferred Domenic from the Johanssons to the foster family. Domenic is now in the public school system.

Friends, family, and a university professor of psychology testified that the Johanssons are more than capable of parenting Domenic and caring for him. Despite this testimony, and the willingness of the family to do whatever the state wants them to do, Judge Freudenthal decided to go along with the assertions of the social workers that Domenic was better off in the care of the state. Meanwhile, Freudenthal spent almost as much time discussing the fees the appointed lawyers would collect as he did explaining the rationale for the state’s continued custody of Domenic.

About six months after Sweden took him hostage, and where he remains as such today.

Ruby Harrold-Claesson, a noted international human rights lawyer and president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights (nkmr.org), represented Christer Johansson before being removed from the case on the motion of Eva Ernston, Domenic’s appointed attorney. Harrold-Claesson has developed a practice of fighting Swedish social services, a system she calls increasingly “evil.”

“Held Hostage”

“I have never in 20 years of practice seen a case more badly handled,” says Harrold-Claaesson. “This family has been so traumatized that they may never recover. The Swedish government has grossly violated this family’s human rights, both under Swedish law and under the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Under the ECHR people have the right to leave their country. But in this case the social services took this poor little boy and...READ MORE

Oct 5, 2010

Guest Writer: Helen E. Lees

Yesterday we announced this blog open to guest writers who have been following the Johansson case. Today, we are happy to introduce Helen E. Lees, a graduate student at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her PhD thesis "considers what happens to the self of parents and other adults upon discovery of the possibilities of elective home education." Due to her research, she brings interesting insight to the tragic story of the Johansson family. We continue to accept articles from guest writers. Send your submissions for consideration to: returndomenic@aol.com
Domenic and the New Paradigm
By Helen E. Lees

Domenic and his father in happier times.
The case of the parents of Domenic looks as though it is an unfolding brutal tragedy of misunderstandings. This is backed up and informed by doctoral research that I have been conducting at the University of Birmingham in the UK between 2007-2010. This research highlights empirical data on the discovery of home education and other educational alternatives, suggesting that in order to understand such a lifestyle and way of seeing education and the upbringing of children, one needs to have undergone some kind of 'conversion' experience. As a result, those in favor of home education who have, it seems from my research, experienced this kind of conversion, are living in 'a different world' from people who believe in mainstream schooling.

The philosophical understanding that underpins this idea comes from Thomas S. Kuhn, who wrote 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' in 1969. Kuhn says that when people discover a new way of doing things, they change paradigm and what results is an incommensurability of understanding and communication between those in the old world/paradigm and those in the new. My research shows home education is a 'new' paradigm and also that consequently- involved in education as a field with diverse options - is the problem of incommensurability: although people are talking about essentially the same thing (education), different ways of doing things means that when people have an understanding coming from a particular paradigm or 'worldview', they cannot easily understand other people in an alternative paradigm and with another 'worldview'. It requires effort for people in the 'old' paradigm to see - literally - from the point of view of those in the 'new'.

It seems that social services have a lack of understanding and an inability to understand home education practice and choices. They are, it seems, only seeing the situation from their own point of view. My research suggests why they might be so intractable in their views with regard to Domenic being in the care of his 'alternative' parents. Kuhn also talks about the strong resistance from those in the 'old' paradigm towards those in the 'new' paradigm. If we apply this to Domenic's case, it makes some sense of the strong and continuing resistance that social services seem to have displayed against Domenic's parents: if social services give in and return Domenic, it threatens their belief that their worldview and opinions are the 'correct' ones. This is a strong and world-shattering threat that must be guarded against at all costs at the level of their personal self; although it is likely to be dressed in professional language and rationale.

In the UK, there are many examples of social services having a very weak grasp of the basic concepts of home education and seeing it, as a result, as poor education. The problem of incommensurability is a global one. Of course, home educating has been highlighted through various academic research to constitute another (personally and socially positive) way of life, so it is not just about education. It is also about lifestyle. If a mother wants to follow natural medicine practices for example (a very Indian and Vedic attitude), this is a life view. It is also a life view that is valid on its own terms. If it is seen from a medical/scientistic perspective it loses validity. From following the case of Domenic Johansson being taken and kept from his parents it strikes me forcibly that what is happening is not fact based on sound judgment, but facts based on a determination to maintain validation of a particular worldview that is not and - in a democracy - cannot be allowed to be seen as the only valid worldview.

Gotland social services do not have all the answers and are not in possession of the truth. Their worldview is not the only valid one. Their facts can be seen differently. A child has the right to be brought up in the worldview of its parents and parents have the right to bring up their child in their own worldview. Using this argument, the only clause that would substantiate violation of respect for a particular worldview or paradigm of living would be substantial and substantiated profound harm to the child. I do not see any evidence of such harm having been perpetrated against Domenic by his parents. They seem, from what I have read, heard, seen, felt and personally judged, to have a solidly loving attitude and a valid worldview.

My research backs up the Johansson's claims that the situation they are experiencing is unfair. Why is their son away from and out of their care? It doesn't make sense from any worldview, actually. Whilst this non-sense is unfolding, Domenic, of course, is changing his worldview... Domenic's parents are having to agree to change theirs. A dominance in perspective creates totalitarianism at the level of personal choice. A democracy is founded on personal choice. Adherence to a worldview - for anyone - is not secured by taking children from their parents.

Helen E. Lees

Oct 4, 2010

Seeking Guest Bloggers

Seeking Guest Bloggers

Since it's inception more than six months ago, the Friends of Domenic Johansson blog has been written anonymously by one person, with the gracious help of a team of people volunteering behind the scenes with translations and editing. At this juncture, we would like to open the blog to other writers who are passionate about what is happening in Sweden and through it's LVU system and specifically with the Johansson family.

Guest bloggers can choose to write anonymously or use a by-line, if they prefer. Submissions made by guest bloggers will not be compensated, as this is a worldwide, volunteer effort to help Domenic return home and to help educate the world, as well as Swedes, of the dangerous pitfalls in Sweden's LVU system. If you would like to write an article for publication on the Friends of Domenic blog, or on the Swedish version, Vanner till Domenic, please contact us privately at:


Thank you for your interest in Domenic's plight and for caring enough to help!