A German Christian family whose four children were taken into care because they home-schooled them did not have their human rights breached, the European Court of Human Rights has said.
Petra and Dirk Wunderlich, from Darmstadt, had refused to send their children to school, which is illegal in Germany.
Their children were taken into care for three weeks in 2013 after 33 police officers and seven youth welfare officers entered their house by force.
The Wunderlichs took their case to the ECHR in Strasbourg claiming their right to respect for private and family life had been breached.
However, the court said officials were reasonable in assuming they had 'endangered their children by not sending them to school'.
'Based on the information available at the time, the domestic authorities had reasonably assumed that the children were isolated, had had no contact with anyone outside of the family, and that a risk to their physical integrity had existed,' it said.
Dirk Wunderlich told Deutsche Welle accusations against them were 'invented'. He said the children were taught through a Christian distance-learning programme and denied they were isolated, saying they participated in various clubs and organisations.
The family has been supported by ADF International. Dirk Wunderlich said in a statement: 'It is a very disheartening day for our family and the many families affected by this in Germany. After years of legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children. It is upsetting that the European Court of Human Rights has not recognised the injustices we have suffered at the hands of the German authorities.'
'This ruling ignores the fact that Germany's policy on homeschooling violates the rights of parents to educate their children and direct their upbringing. It is alarming to see that this was not recognized by the most influential human rights court in Europe. This ruling is a step in the wrong direction and should concern anyone who cares about freedom,' said Paul Coleman, ADF Internation executive director.
The family is considering an appeal to the ECHR's Grand Chamber.