Three children taken into care after being locked up by their parents for nearly five months in case they caught the coronavirus should not be allowed to return home, an administrative court in Sweden has ruled.
From March until early July, the children, aged between 10 and 17, were prevented from leaving the family’s apartment, whose door was “nailed shut with planks”, and also kept isolated from each other, according to the court verdict in Jönköping county.
The children’s lawyer, Mikael Svegfors, told local radio the family did not speak or understand Swedish fluently and followed the news about Covid-19 from the parents’ home country, which had imposed much tighter confinement restrictions than Sweden.
“It is an absolute clash between how people think in different parts of the world,” Svegfors said. “The children got caught up in this, and in the fear of a pandemic we should all be afraid of in one way or another.”
The case was “obviously very sensitive”, but the court and local social services had the children’s best interests at heart, he said.
The parents have said the children were home-schooled and denied locking them in against their will, saying they were free to go out if they wished. They intend to appeal against the compulsory care order.
“There are different perceptions and different images in this,” Andreas Hannah, the lawyer who represented the parents at the court, told the radio station P4.
Unlike many other countries, Sweden closed schools for the over-16s but kept those for younger pupils open and insisted on full attendance. Families, including those in high-risk groups, were reported to social services and faced fines for keeping their children at home.
The country banned gatherings of more than 50 people but otherwise asked, rather than ordered, people to maintain physical distancing and work from home if possible. Shops, bars, restaurants and gyms stayed open as the country relied on citizens’ sense of civic responsibility rather than laws.
The government has insisted its objective was not to achieve rapid herd immunity but rather to slow the spread of the coronavirus enough for health services to be able to cope.
Daily infection in Sweden have been falling steadily since June apart from a brief spike in August. It has recorded 84,500 coronavirus cases and and 5,820 deaths, a toll per million inhabitants far higher than its Nordic neighbours, but lower than some countries that imposed lockdowns, such as the UK, Spain and Italy.
Source: The Guardian