Image copyrightADF International CaptionsDirk and Petra Wunderlich, depicted with their four children and ADF International employees, wish to educate at…
German parents, whose four children were cared for because they refused to send them to school, had not violated their human rights, the European Court of Human Rights has determined.
Homeschooling is prohibited in Germany but the Wunderlich family, from Darmstadt, who is a Christian, wanted to educate their children in this way.
Their four children were taken over in three weeks in 201
Afterwards, the parents took their case to the ECHR in Strasbourg,
They argued that their right to respect for privacy and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been infringed.
But the court has now decided that it was justified to take the children care.
ECHR said officials in Darmstadt near Frankfurt were likely to assume that their parents “threatened their children by not sending them to school”.
“Based on the information available then, the domestic authorities were readily available assuming that the children were isolated, had no contact with anyone outside the family and that a risk to their physical integrity had existed,” the court added.
Captions  MCHR confirmed that the German authorities were entitled to take the children into care
In a statement released by the religious advocacy group ADF International, Father Dirk Wunderlich described the Court’s judgment as “discouraging”.
“After years of legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children,” he said. “It is outrageous that the European Court of Human Rights has not recognized the injustices we have suffered in the hands of the German authorities”.
The family is now considering appealing the decision by taking their case to the large ECHR department.
The long dispute began in 2005, when the parents – who are deeply religious – refused to enter their oldest daughter in school.
Homeschooling is essentially prohibited in Germany, except in very rare cases – as severe illness or if the child’s parents are diplomats.
But parents argued that even Christian private schools could leave their children vulnerable to “unwanted influences”.
The couple was repeatedly issued with fines, and even criminal proceedings were brought against them. But they simply paid the fine and continued to educate their children at home.
The police eventually seized the children from their parents’ home in Darmstadt on August 29, 2013.
The authorities claimed that the children grew up in a “parallel world” and that they would struggle to become part of society and learn important social skills, such as tolerance.
The children were temporarily moved for three weeks between August and September 2013 and were recorded in school for one year until 2014.
After that year, the parents took their children out of school again.