Parents who abduct children should face longer in prison, says top judge


Source: The Telegraph

Parents who abduct their own children could face life sentences because of the “unspeakable cruelty” they cause, the country’s most senior judge said yesterday.

Lord Judge said has called for tougher penalties for parents who abduct their own children. Photo: PA

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, dismissed a legal precedent that parents in such cases should not be charged with kidnap.

That could mean them facing life imprisonment instead of the current seven year maximum for child abduction.

Lord Judge said the maximum term for child abduction should also be increased because it currently does not meet “true justice”, especially for the other “loving parent” whose children are snatched away.

The call for a review came as he dismissed sentence appeals by two fathers who abducted their children and took them abroad “for very many years”.

He said cases where fathers abducted children and took them abroad “have become increasingly troublesome”.

In one case, the children were away from their mother for so long that they now refuse to have contact with her.

Lord Judge said: “The abduction of children from a loving parent is an offence of unspeakable cruelty to the loving parent and to the child or children, whatever they may later think of the parent from whom they have been estranged as a result of the abduction.”

Ruling on a separate case in 1991, the Court of Appeal concluded that in cases where a parent abducts their child prosecutors should “avoid altogether charging anyone with child kidnapping”.

But sitting in the same court yesterday, Lord Judge said: “Our view is clear.

“Simply because the child has been abducted by a parent, given current conditions, it no longer necessarily follows that for policy reasons a charge of kidnapping must always be deemed inappropriate”.

He said the previous ruling “has no continuing authority” and asked the Law Commission, the Government’s legal advisers, to address the issue as part of its ongoing review of kidnap laws.

It paves the way for such parents being charged with kidnap and facing a possible life sentence.

Lord Judge also called for those convicted of child abduction to face longer terms by raising the maximum term available for such offences beyond the current seven years.

He said there were currently child abduction cases which “merit a sentence greater than the maximum current sentence of seven years imprisonment after a trial”.

The “wide discrepancy” between sentences for kidnap and abduction offences under “seems illogical”, he said

Sitting with Lord Justice McFarlane and Mr Justice Royce, Lord Judge said: “There are some cases of child abduction where, given the maximum available sentence, with or without the appropriate discount for a guilty plea, the available sentencing options do not meet the true justice of the case, properly reflective of the culpability of the offender, and the harm caused by the offence.”

Such crimes result in “depriving the other parent of the joy of his or her children and depriving the children from contact with a loving parent with whom they no longer wish to communicate,” he said.

The court dismissed an appeal by Talib Hussein Kayani, 49, who pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to two offences of abducting a child and was sentenced in June to five years imprisonment.

The two sons, who were taken to Pakistan until 2009, have not seen their mother since 2000 and still refuse to have contact with her.

Madhat Solliman, 58, who pleaded guilty at Harrow Crown Court to three counts of abducting a child and was sentenced to three years jail in April, also lost his sentence appeal.

He abducted his three children in 2002 and took them to Egypt before returning in 2009.

Lord Judge stressed that abduction was an offence of “great seriousness” and in both cases the mothers had “suffered extreme emotional hardship”.

He said: “The periods of abduction were prolonged, many years in duration, and the relationship with the mothers was irremediably damaged.

“In the case of the mothers, the hardship will be life long.”

Lord Judge also called for tougher penalties for those who breach court order designed to prevent forced marriages, describing the current sentence of two years as “utterly inadequate”.

The Home Office is currently consulting on whether to make forcing someone in to a marriage as a criminal offence in itself. Lord Judge added that forcing someone to marry against their will also effectively results in them being raped.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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3 thoughts on “Parents who abduct children should face longer in prison, says top judge

  1. The views of this judge echo the sentiments of many parents whose children have been abducted by the other parent. The penalty for illegally copying a DVD is far greater than the penalty for International Parental Child Abduction.

  2. It would be a start if ALL Parental Child Abductors were held to account for their selfish actions, .. Unfortunately, the vast majority get off scott free!
    In my case (Like so many others), I know exactly where my children are in Zambia, yet the judicial system allows for Appeal after Appeal from the abducting parent to protract matters, and drag out proceedings for years on end! It has been more than three years now since my children have been unlawfully retained.. The rights of my children to have contact/access and a meaningful relationship with BOTH parents pushed aside in favour of the abducting parent to milk the legal avenues afforded to them for all its worth.
    My MP Mark lancaster has already started the process of bringing about new legislation to have ALL forms of International Parental Child Abduction deemed to be a criminal Act!
    This cannot happen a moment too soon, for the protection of all British children abducted from one parent by the other.
    Whether it is the mother, or the father, that Abducts, Unlawfully retains, or Alienates, it is WRONG and the selfish offending ‘parent’ should be punish accordingly to mirror the CRIME!

  3. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The term international child abduction is generally synonymous with international parental kidnapping, child snatching, and child stealing. However, the more precise legal usage of international child abduction originates in private international law and refers to the illegal removal of children from their home by an acquaintance or family member to a foreign country. In this context, “illegal” is normally taken to mean “in breach of custodial rights” and “home” is defined as the child’s habitual residence. As implied by the “breach of custodial rights,” the phenomenon of international child abduction generally involves an illegal removal that creates a jurisdictional conflict of laws whereby multiple authorities and jurisdictions could conceivably arrive at seemingly reasonable and conflicting custodial decisions with geographically limited application. Such a result often strongly affects a child’s access and connection to half their family and may causes the loss of their former language, culture, name and nationality, it violates numerous children’s rights, and can cause severe psychological and emotional trauma to the child and family left behind.

    There is a common misconception that because the abductor in these cases is usually not a stranger the children are not in danger. The harmful consequences for children and families have been shown in several studies and child abduction has been characterized as a form of parental alienation and child abuse. Adding international dimensions to the detrimental effects of child abduction significantly increases the detrimental effects on children and families. The modern day ease of international travel and corollary increase in international marriages is leading to a rapid rise in the number of international child abductions.

    Source
    .Description above from the Wikipedia article International child abduction, licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here. Community Pages are not affiliated with, or endorsed by, anyone associated with the topic.

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