Dissenting opinion in public care case

Dissenting opinion in public care case

Verdict delivered on February 1, 2005.






The NCHR's comments:

Below follows the dissenting opinion given by a clear-headed lay judge with both integrity and civil courage.


Background to the case:

The father in this case is a UN-refugee. He fled from war in his home country and was given refugee status in
Sweden. The father is a very articulate person, who knows his rights. He received a shock when the social services became interested in him. The father said: "I fled from one hell in my country, only to end up in an even greater hell in Sweden. They have taken my son from me."


Believing that the rights that he knew were the same for everyone, the father contacted a member of the Swedish Parliament and complained about the treatment that he and his family had suffered at hands of the social workers. The MP recommended him to contact a lawyer in Gothenburg, who he could request the court to appoint as his public defender in the case.

In three consecutive decisions the chief justice at the county administrative court refused to appoint the lawyer that the father had chosen as his public defender - claiming that the distance between the cities was too great. When the chief justice made the first decision, he appointed a local lawyer as public defender for the father, but he has refused to even talk to the local lawyer. Since the father could not pay the lawyer of his choosing to travel to the court and plead his cause and he had forbidden the local lawyer to even utter one word at the hearing, the father had to conduct his own case.


It should be noted that it was the same judge, ie the chief justice, who delivered the verdict in the case according to which the boy should be taken into public care and placed in a foster home.

The CountyAdministrative court has thereby committed a gross miscarriage of justice. This case is in no way unique.






Lay Judge BLV dissents and states the following.

The youngster has been described by the school staff as clever and ambitious but with difficulties in distinguishing between right and wrong and in listening and coping with reprimands. He has shown anxiety and difficulties in concentration in school and has on several occasions told people around him that he has been exposed to assault by the father. It has not been shown, however, that any assault has taken place. In view of the enmity existing between the witness and the father, what the witness has claimed concerning the father's assault on the son leads to no other assessment. The father and his wife have limited economic resources and receive a maintenance allowance. The youngster is now placed in a foster home that appears to be affluent. In consideration of what has been revealed about the differences in economic circumstances, the youngster's wish to remain in the foster home need not in itself imply that the conditions with the father are such that residing with the father is not consistent with the youngster's best interests. The father has several times asked the Social Welfare Board for economic help so that the youngster could have the things that a boy of his age normally has, for instance, a bicycle and a cell phone. He has not received any help from the Social Welfare Board. In that case, the Social Welfare Board has not fulfilled its obligations to help the father in his role as a parent. In the case it has come out that the youngster is somewhat afraid of the father, and that there are some defects in the father's care of his son. In view of the existing cultural differences, and since the father's wife appears to have a certain stabilising function in the home, I find that there is no obvious risk of harming the youngster's health or development if he resides at home. Consequently, the fact that some criticism can be directed against the circumstances in the father's home does not, in my view, mean that it has been proved that the youngster's health or development is at obvious risk of being harmed because of them. The conditions for taking the youngster into care by virtue of §2 of LVU (The Law on the Ward of Minors) therefore do not exist. The Board's application should therefore be rejected. - In other respects, I am in agreement with the majority.



The Helena Lufuma Case


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Sven Hessle's contribution to the Alexander Aminoff debate in the Swedish Daily (Svenska Dagbladet), July 3, 1984.


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By Jacob Young, Joan Westreich and Donna Foote


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