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Germany: Court upholds removal of children from home-school family

February 2019

The Wunderlich family outside the court (ADF International)
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The German state acted within Convention law in removing children from a home-schooling family, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

The Wunderlich family are considering a potential appeal to the Grand Chamber of the court.

In August 2013, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family.

The authorities forcibly removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatised.       The children were ultimately returned to their parents but their legal status remained unclear as Germany is one of the few European countries that penalises families who want to home school.

After domestic courts in Germany ruled in favour of the national government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear the case in August 2016. But now, the Court has ruled against the German family.

Dirk Wunderlich, the father of the children, said, ‘It is a very disheartening day for our family and the many families affected by this in Germany.

‘After years of legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children. It is upsetting that the European Court of Human Rights has not recognised the injustices we have suffered at the hands of the German authorities’.

Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, said, ‘This ruling ignores the fact that Germany’s policy on home-schooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing.

‘It is alarming to see that this was not recognised by the most influential human rights court in Europe. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom’.

The European Court of Human Rights said officials in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, were reasonable in assuming the parents had ‘endangered their children by not sending them to school’.

The court added, ‘Based on the information available at the time, the domestic authorities had reasonably assumed that the children were isolated, had had no contact with anyone outside of the family, and that a risk to their physical integrity had existed’.