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Sweden child custody case: Diaspora ministry asked to take action

West Bengal,Diaspora,Immigration/Law/Rights, Tue, 12 Jun 2012 IANS

Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) The Overseas Indian Affairs ministry has been asked to take action for release of an NRI mother's son from custody of Swedish authorities in Gotland, close on the heels of the successful diplomatic efforts that led to the return to India of another NRI couple's children from forced foster care in Norway.

In a communication to the joint secretary of the ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, under-secretary in the home ministry S.R. Meena forwarded the complaint from NGO India's Smile and sought "appropriate action in the matter". A copy of the communication is with IANS.

The incident came to light after Fam Christer Johansson and his wife NRI Annie Johansson (nee Annie Nirmalkumar Bharos) wrote to the city-based India's Smile that their 11-year-old son Domenic had been taken into custody by the child welfare services of the Scandanavian nation in 2009.

The child welfare services - Gotland Municipal Social Welfare Committee - claimed that Domenic was not properly cared for as per Swedish law. The authorities cited two cavities in his baby teeth and that the Johanssons had opted to forgo immunisations for Domenic. They also said Domenic was not socialised enough with other children.

The Johanssons had opted for home schooling which is legal in Sweden and also wanted to set up base in India in the long run. They had told the Swedish authorities that they were planning a short visit to India and would do all medical tests and procedures on the child once they returned.

On June 25, 2009, when the Johanssons were sitting inside an aircraft for India, police entered and took Domenic away. The child has been put in emergency foster care.

Since then, the couple has been doing the rounds of courts, police stations, and welfare committee offices, without any luck. They have been allowed to see their son only rarely.

Appealing to the media to do its bit in rescuing Domenic, the NGO's trustee secretary Rajeev Sarkar said: "We need to go all out to ensure the child returns to its parents who are now in a pitiable state."

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