By Peter J. Smith

STRASBOURG, France, July 2, 2008 ( – A German family that fled to Canada for refuge from Germany’s persecution of home-schooling is taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The family escaped Germany after police made an unsuccessful attempt to storm their home and seize the children to put them into state custody.

The International Human Rights Group, a legal organization that has been representing Germany’s persecuted home-schooling families, filed an application at the European Court on behalf of Andreas and Kathrina Plett.

Nearly two years ago, German police stormed into the Plett residence and arrested Kathrina Plett for homeschooling her children. The police stormed the house in the dead of night after Mrs. Plett opened the door to a knocking plainclothes policewoman.

The children sought by the police were not at home, but out with their father. Mr. Plett, apprised over the telephone of the situation by Mrs. Plett, who was in the Gelsenkirchen jail, immediately took his family over the border to Austria to set up a new residence.

The family then fled to Canada about a month ago after German authorities threatened to seize the children from their parents in Austria.

Joel Thornton, president of IHRG, is arguing on behalf of the Pletts that the state violated Articles 8, 9, 10, 14, and Protocol 1, Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights in its treatment of the Plett family.

According to the brief submitted to the Court, the IHRG argues that the family’s right of religious expression and freedom to impart ideas to their children were violated. The family is seeking remuneration and cancellation of all fines levied by the government.

“The Plett family has suffered the deprivation of their rights guaranteed under Article 8 of the Convention in that respect for their private and family life has been violated without demonstrated necessity for national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,” reads the brief.

The IHRG is also asking the Court to recognize that Germany violated the right of parents as the primary educators of their children as laid out in Protocol 1, Article 2, which says, “in the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the state shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.”

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