“[A child] shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents…” Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)
Christer Johansson, a Swedish citizen, and Annie Johansson, an Indian citizen, were recently informed by the Social Services in Gotland Kommun of their intention to transfer full custody of their son Domenic to a foster family. This is allegedly in the best interest of Domenic. However, Social Services have failed to demonstrate a single report of negligence or physical or emotional abuse by this family. Indeed, Social Services have engaged in an inhumane campaign of alienation: not allowing visitation or any communication between Domenic and his parents since November 2010.
Domenic Johansson has suffered physical and emotional deterioration due to the unfounded and cruelly prolonged isolation from his parents, extended family, and friends. He has not been allowed to even keep contact with other relatives and friends, in violation of the general rules outlined in Swedish law 22 § tredje stycket SoL. While in the care of Social Services, Domenic has been taken on several occasions to the hospital with stress-induced vomiting, the result of forced isolation from his biological family, which had constituted his sense of security and basic emotional identity. Domenic has both a Swedish father and an Indian mother with strong extended family ties. However, Gotland Social Services has ignored this Swedish regulation: A “[b]oard should be particularly vigilant with regard to immigrant children since many of them come from cultures where family membership has a different meaning than we are accustomed. A broken contact with family and community may at worst lead to isolation and disorientation in adulthood (Bill 1989/90: 28 p. 73).”
We demand a full investigation into the handling of this case by the Gotlands Kommun Social Services and the court appointed lawyers of Domenic Johansson (Eva Ernstson), Christer Johansson (Lars Dahlstrom) and Annie Johansson (Shantu Brahmbhatt). In direct defiance of Swedish and European Union laws, Gotland City Courts have violated the Johansson family's guaranteed rights to be represented by the lawyer of their choice. They have instead appointed lawyers with little previous experience, who uncritically accepted social services statements regarding the physical and psychological state of child and parents even though they were never corroborated by experts and who, therefore, undermined their clients’ rights to a fair trial. The system has failed this family and many others and must be changed.
We demand the immediate reunification of the family and that steps be taken to restore the emotional and psychological bond so abruptly broken by the unwarranted actions of the Social Services at Gotland Kommun.
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