A 45-year old father, Richard Dray, has been fighting for three weeks to be able to make contact with his 12-year old son. According to Mr. Dray, an inhabitant of Toulouse, “social services and the legal system have separated us because of my religious practices.”
La Dépêche (15.04.2013) – Richard Dray, a 45-year old Orthodox Jew who is an amateur rock musician and an aficionado of vintage motorcycles is no longer authorized to come near his 12-year old son. According to him, social services and the legal system have separated him and his son because of his religious aspirations. In despair, he does not know who to turn to obtain the right to reestablish ties to his son who has been tossed back and forth between different homes and foster families.
Your problems began after a divorce?
After the separation form my wife, I felt a need to turn to religion. I had custody of my son, every other weekend. Following a behavior problem, he was put under the care of psychologists at Blagnac. I called their practices into question because I wanted to place him in a private institution. That action led to the loss of my parental rights. The judge felt that I was harmful to my son’s education. He told me: “If you want to live like that, go live in Jerusalem.” I nevertheless retained visitation rights.
That did not work out, why?
They hid him with a host family on Launaguet Road. I succeeded in finding him. During a recorded telephone conversation, when he told me he was sad because he had not seen me, I said to him: “Don’t worry, everything that happens to us on earth is a test sent by God for us to overcome…” These were the words of a father to his son, meant to reassure him. I was bluntly forbidden to contact him. I was accused of using fundamentalist and dangerous language. Child Support Social Services retort that I must not speak of God in 2013, to a 12-year old child, that it was contrary to their educational principles. For three weeks, I have had no news of my son. This decision is purely arbitrary. At the home, he ran away and began to smoke…is that an education?
What are you currently expecting to do?
I don’t know what else to do in order to get them to listen to me. I only want to speak to my son, to tell him that his father is there for him. I feel that my religion has been used unfairly against me. But I am not a fundamentalist. I live my religion peacefully. What is it that I must do? Should I perch myself up high in a crane?
The General Council is aware of this case. Recently contacted, the Council announced that this case “is being monitored” by Child Social Services “within the framework of the mandate of the magistrate.” But because of the rules of confidentiality, “we have no comment.”
Translation French-English by Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l