European court ‘has confused the right to education’ with protectionism for state systems
A homeschool family from Sweden is taking its case against its government to the European Court of Human Rights even though that court has a history of “confused” rulings that have emboldened nations such as Germany and Sweden to crack down on home education.
That’s according to the Home School Legal Defense Association, which advocates for homeschooling families worldwide.
“The ECHR has been quite hostile to homeschooling and also parental rights generally in education,” explained Mike Donnelly, HSLDA director of global outreach.
“Despite an unqualified command that the rights of parents must be respected, the ECHR’s jurisprudence has confused the right to education recognized in the European Convention on Human Rights with the notion that democracy and pluralism can only be protected by state teaching,” he said.
“This emboldens states like Germany and Sweden who treat homeschooling families harshly,” he said.
The Petersens, in their own court filings, cited Swedish and international human rights laws in their contention that it is Sweden’s duty to allow them to educate their elementary-age daughter at home according to their convictions.
In their appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court, the Petersens argued that “the court’s application of this narrow portion of legislative history conflicts with the larger intent and purpose of Swedish school law, as well as Sweden’s international human rights obligations.”
“The family applied to local authorities as required by law at the beginning of the school year but were told they could not homeschool because there were no extraordinary circumstances. The family has countered by insisting that Swedish courts have ignored important human rights treaties. Daniel Petersen says that Sweden has an obligation to uphold the European Convention of Human Rights which parliament made part of Swedish law in 1995,” HSLDA reported.
Petersen said, it is “commendable that Sweden strives for ‘comprehensive and objective’ education in school, but for the Swedish courts to use this claim as grounds for the denial of a fundamental human right is untenable and violates Sweden’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights and other human rights norms that expressly protect the parents prior right to choose their children’s education according to their own convictions.”
“Human rights cannot be arbitrarily taken away, neither can the state decide when to ‘allow’ such rights to be exercised; they are fundamental and inalienable for all human beings. If Sweden wants to live up to the title ‘champion of human rights,’ then it’s time for the authorities to loosen their grip and let Sweden’s parents take back what is rightfully ours.”
Eillinor Peterson told HSDLA: “My daughter is both American and Swedish. She needs to be brought up in a bilingual environment and also learn about the world with two cultural perspectives. This is difficult to achieve in a Swedish school. We also wish to empower our daughter to be actively engaged in directing her learning. The Swedish school law has a vision for students being able to receive individualized instruction, to reach as far as they are able – and that the students have influence over their education. We completely agree. In our case, this is best met with education outside of school.”
HSLDA said the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court turned down the Petersens, so the case is being elevated to the ECHR.
Donnelly pointed out that previously, in rulings in 1992, 1993 and 2006, the ECHR “has refused to find these countries in violation of the convention. They were wrong then and are wrong now. We hope the court will reconsider its misguided judgments with the Petersen case and others we plan to file in 2015.”
Written by BOB UNRUH
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