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International Day of Families: Family is building block of society and deserves protection

Date:15 MAY 2017
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On 15 May 2017, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Families. This year, the special day should highlight the 'importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the significance of parental education for the welfare of children'.

'Children deserve the loving care and protection of their parents. On the International Day of Families, ADF International stresses the important role family plays as the fundamental building unit of society. Unfortunately, we are increasingly witnessing international institutions, governments, and courts undermining the family rather than protecting it,' said Paul Coleman, Senior Counsel for ADF International, overseeing the organization’s advocacy work at international institutions such as the United Nations.

Parental and family rights under threat

Last month, ADF International brought a leading case involving family rights before the European Court of Human Rights. The German homeschooling family Wunderlich sought to exercise their parental right to educate their children at home, something that Germany prohibited in 1918. To enforce this law, a group of more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family near Darmstadt, Germany.

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Although the authorities eventually returned the children, the legal position remains uncertain and Germany continues to maintain criminal penalties for families who want to homeschool. Recently, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to review whether Germany’s actions breached the right to family life, which is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

'Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply exercised their parental right to raise their children in line with their philosophical and religious convictions – something they thought they could do better in the home environment. International law protects the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children, Germany should respect that,' said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel on the Wunderlich case.

'The International Day of Families is a good occasion to draw attention to the importance of the family, and the need to safeguard family rights worldwide. Let us not forget that in a free society, parents raise children, not the government,' added Coleman.
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