Japan remains a nightmare when it comes to parental child abductions


December 29, 2013

Source: Vancouver Sun

There are few more heart-wrenching stories than those of parental child abductions. Forget the emotional dynamics that drive ex-wives and ex-husbands to use their children as weapons in an ongoing war. The greatest damage inflicted is on little kids, which is why for the past 35 years all but Japan among the developed countries in the world and dozens of others have signed on to the Hague Convention of Child Abduction.

Japan_Child_Abducted

The convention requires signatory countries to honour the court orders of other member states. The goal is to protect children’s right to have access to both of their parents.  And while the Hague Convention’s application isn’t always perfect, it’s the best we’ve got so far. Of course, it would be better if more countries signed on and then lived up to both the convention’s letter and spirit.

I’ve written a number of stories, most recently an update on five-year-old Max Kawabata-Morness, who was abducted July 26 by his mother Chie Kawabata. In the column, which follows below, I mentioned that as far as I knew Canada has never put pressure on Japan to either ratify or enforce the Hague Convention.

It turns out I was wrong. Strangely, the correction didn’t come from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or anyone in the Canadian government. The mistake was pointed out by  — Capt. Paul Toland, executive assistant to the deputy surgeon general of the U.S. Navy. Toland’s daughter, Erika, was less than a year old when she was abducted by her Japanese mother in August 2003. His last contact with her was in July 2004.

(Toland’s story is one of five in a documentary of parental child abductions called From the Shadows.)

Toland provided me a link to a 2006 Kyodo News International report on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first meeting with Japan’s then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Here’s part of what that report says: “Harper, who took office in February, was meeting Koizumi for the first time, took the Japanese delegation by surprise when he brought up the issue of parental child abductions and called on Japan to accede to the Hague Convention.”

Toland also gave me a link to a Japanese government press release from the June 17, 2013 meeting between Harper and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that referenced Harper’s 2006 comments about the Hague Convention and updated him on Japan’s intention to become a signatory.

Of  course, as I noted in my Nov. 1 column, Japan’s enabling legislation appears to have a massive loophole that would allow Japanese judges to reject any foreign court orders regarding children that run contrary to Japanese “custom.”

Here’s the column.

Kris Morness and his son, Max Kawabata-Morness, in Vancouver a few weeks before the five-year-old was abducted by his Japanese-American and taken to Japan.

Kris Morness and his son, Max Kawabata-Morness, in Vancouver a few weeks before the five-year-old was abducted by his Japanese-American and taken to Japan.

Kris Morness spent thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to ensure that his worst fear wouldn’t come true. It was a waste of the Vancouver father’s time, money and effort.

On July 26, his ex-wife Chie Kawabata abducted their fiveyear-old son, Max. A Washington court had previously denied Kawabata’s request to move with Max to Japan, ordering her to remain in Kirkland, Wash., and comply with the court-approved parental order, which included Max having regular visits with Morness in Vancouver and frequent Skype calls.

After Max missed a scheduled Skype call, Morness contacted Kirkland police, who determined that Kawabata had flown on a one-way ticket and had arranged to ship “500 pounds of household goods and personal effects” to Tokyo.

On Sept. 15, King County Superior Court issued a warrant for Kawabata’s arrest on the charge of custodial interference in the first degree, with bail set at $100,000. The prosecutor’s report noted that “the State has serious concerns about the well-being and whereabouts of the five-year-old child as well as the defendant’s unwillingness to follow court orders.”

But Morness’s court orders and even the arrest warrant aren’t worth the paper they’re written on as long as Kawabata stays in Japan.

The arrest warrant is only valid in the United States and there’s no way that a Japanese

court will honour the court orders. Simply put, from a stolen child’s point of view or that of a left-behind parent, Japan is one of the worst places in the world.

There’s no firm estimate of how many Canadian children have been abducted to Japan and not returned, but I know of at least six including Max.

And while Canadian politicians don’t appear to have ever raised this abuse of both human rights and children’s rights with their Japanese counterparts, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama spoke of the more than 120 abducted American kids often enough that Japan’s parliament agreed this Spring that it would ratify the Hague Convention on child abduction. Japan has yet to implement the legislation. And even if it had, while it may meet the Hague Convention requirements, it doesn’t appear to reflect its spirit.

The convention has been in place for nearly 35 years and requires that signatory countries respect and implement each other’s Family Court orders. The goal is to protect children from the trauma of abduction and ensure that children don’t end up stateless without any legal rights.

Before any foreign order would be enforced, a Japanese judge would have to agree to allow it. And that’s no easy thing.

According to information provided to me by the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa, the foreign court where the judgment was made would have to have international trial jurisdiction over the case “based on Japanese standards.”

Additionally, the legislation would only require a Japanese court to enforce a foreign judgment if it and the legal procedures of the foreign court are “not against the manners and customs or public order in Japan.”

So, what is Japanese custom? A year ago, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation asked Japanese legislator Masao Ido about parental abductions.

“While Westerners call it abduction, it’s common among the Japanese that a mother and child return to the mother’s parents after a divorce,” said Ido, a member of the judicial affairs committee. “If anything, (the Japanese) think it is not a bad thing. It’s really a custom.”

Ido snatched her own three children after her marriage ended. “Like other parents, I left a note so the other parent knew where the children were and understood that they were in a safe place.”

Morness holds out hope that Kawabata may change her mind and bring Max back. That would seem to be the best outcome for everyone.

But that rarely seems to happen. Like Morness, Richmond teacher Murray Wood spent thousands of dollars trying to get his son and daughter back. His son, who is now an adult, returned to Canada earlier this year after spending nine years in Japan. His daughter remains in Japan.

(Wood’s story is one of five documented in a film called From The Shadows, which is being screened Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Roundhouse at 1181 Seymour Street in Vancouver.) Morness worries every day about Max. But since September and around the time of the arrest warrant being issued, Kawabata agreed to resume Max’s Skype calls with his father.

Morness says the calls seem to be made at Starbucks and the connection isn’t great. The calls are often brief, ending abruptly when he asks questions like whether Max wants to come home.

Morness also isn’t certain whether his son is in school.

Even though Max has only been gone for three months, Morness has noticed that his little boy’s English is more heavily accented than before and the phrasing is a bit off. That’s another huge concern, he says, because English is the only language Morness speaks.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail 

Skype: abpworld

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
0-808-189-0066 UK Toll Free Number
800-11-618        Norway Toll Free Number

Worldwide International Number: +31-208112223

Worldwide 24/7 Emergency Number: +34 633 374 629

Mother facing kidnap charge loses US extradition fight


Source: BBC News

A mother accused of international parental kidnapping has lost her fight against extradition to America.

The High Court ruled Eileen Clark, who moved to Britain with her three children in 1998, should be returned to the US.

The kidnapping allegations, made more than 12 years ago, were brought against Mrs Clark by her ex-husband John Clark.

The US citizen was arrested at her home in Oxfordshire in July 2010, following a US government request for her return.

Lawyers for Mrs Clark, 54, said her worsening psychiatric problems and fear of flying would make extradition “oppressive”.

‘Hardship not oppressive’

They also criticised US authorities for not seeking her return earlier, as she had been living “openly” in the UK since December 1998 and had put down “deep roots”.

But Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Underhill, sitting in London, dismissed her appeal.

Mr Justice Underhill said: “We accept there will be hardship for the appellant if she is returned to the US to stand trial, but we do not believe that hardship can properly be characterised as oppressive.”

Mrs Clark had left her husband in February 1995, taking their children with her.

Jury indictment

In June 1995, state prosecutors had charged her with “custodial interference” after she travelled from the family’s New Mexico home to stay with a friend in California.

Both parents retained legal custody of the children after divorcing in 1997.

A US grand jury eventually indicted her with the kidnapping charge after Mrs Clark moved to Britain with the children, who are also US citizens.

In March last year, Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that extradition could go ahead.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271

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

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

Warning: Christmas is parental kidnapping season


THE number of single parents kidnapping their own children is on the rise with hardline community groups advising fathers that government agencies are slow to act over Christmas.

There are nearly 200 parental abductions cases across the country every year and The Daily Telegraph understands that one single fathers’ group is telling its members the Christmas holidays are an ideal time to take children without consent because courts are on a go-slow.

Geoff Day condemned the agency and said estranged parents often take children during the holidays – and do not return them after access visits.

Mr Day said custodial parents were frustrated because Australian laws were so outdated that it could take months to set a court date to get a recovery order.

Karen Morris, whose agency Inter-relate runs three of the Federal Government’s new Family Relationship Centres, said long court waiting lists were part of the problem.

“The waiting lists in court are, and have been, an issue although they have started to come down,” she said.

“Christmas is so emotive. Parents argue a lot over who gets the kids. That combined with (the fact that) some services aren’t in full force does elevate the risk.”

NSW has one of the highest rates of international child abduction and solicitor Sally Nichols, who deals with a number of these cases, said international cases in particular were a trend – with mothers the common culprit.

“International (abduction) is generally on the increase, and domestically it’s chronic at this time of year,” Ms Nichols said.

One single mother, who spoke to The Daily Telegraph yesterday, said she was told government agencies could do nothing to retrieve her daughter, who was taken by her father before Christmas, without a copy of the official court order.

But almost two weeks later she still had not seen the order and was unable to find a solicitor to take her case.

“He ended up bringing her back, but if he had not done that he would still have her.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

Mediation No Help in Child Abduction Case


Source: Fathersandfamilies.org

November 9th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

I’ve said many times that mediation in custody matters is no better than the underlying law and practice of the court.  After all, mediators have little power over litigants.  Mediators just try to get the parties to make a deal rather than have a judge decide the matter for them.

There are a lot of reasons why mediated settlements can be a good thing.  For one thing, the parties tend to be more satisfied with them than they are with the winner-take-all judgment the court issues.  That’s in part because they feel like they have input in the mediation that they don’t have in court.  They can also make agreements on matters that the court is powerless to rule on.  So, on balance, mediation has a lot to offer.

But what parties agree to is necessarily a product of what they think their chances are in court.  So if one party thinks a judge or jury will award him a large monetary verdict in a civil case, he’s not going to be very motivated to settle for less.

And so it is in custody matters.  A husband and wife can mediate till the cows come home, but if the wife knows to a certainty that the judge will give her the kids and him every-other-weekend visitation, why would she settle for less?  Oh, she might do so out of the goodness of her heart, and sometimes that happens.  But a system that depends on the good will of one of the parties to a notoriously acrimonious dispute – i.e. divorce and custody – is bound to fail more often than it succeeds.

So the concept of mediation as the cure-all for what ails custody cases is misplaced.  If laws and judge’s biases don’t change, there’s little mediation can do to help.

This case is a perfect example (Seattle Times, 11/7/11).

Solomon Metalwala, originally from Pakistan and Julia Biryukova, originally from Ukraine, were married in the United States in 2003.  They have two children, Maile, 4 and Sky, 2.  The couple had debt problems, but more than anything they suffered from Biryukova’s mental illness.  Between March of 2010 and the present, she’s been committed three times to mental institutions and diagnosed with a severe form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, that one psychologist said did not rise to the level of psychosis.

During the bitter divorce, Biryukova leveled child abuse allegations at Metalwala, investigations which were ruled to be unfounded.

So, on the one hand there’s the mentally impaired mother with a history of making false allegations of child abuse against the husband, who on the other hand, seems to be a perfectly capable, loving father.  In a sensible family justice system, he’d get custody and Biryukova would get visitation, probably supervised by social workers.

But our family justice system isn’t sensible; it’s Mom-centric, and, as I said above, no amount of mediation will change that.  So when the two went to mediation, what they agreed to looks like pretty much what they and their lawyers figured they’d get from the judge if he/she was required to rule.  Biryukova got primary custody and Metalwala got visitation.

But even that turned out to be too much for Biryukova.

[Attorney Leslie Clay] Terry said the mandatory mediation in which the couple participated last week was intended to bring a close to the bitter divorce. Both parties had compromised, he said, and an agreement that granted custody to Biryukova but allowed visitation with Metalwala was signed by both.

“On Friday, she called and said she’d felt pressured and wanted to void it,” Terry said.

Two days later, 2-year-old Sky disappeared while in Biryukova’s care.  Here’s what she told police happened:  she and the two children were driving in her car when she ran out of gas.  She and Maile walked a mile to the gas station, got gas, called a friend to come pick them up and, when they returned to her car, Sky was gone.

Police said there was no sign of forced entry into the car nor was there a gas can or any indication of car trouble. Police said the car started right up.

The police and the FBI are now searching for Sky.  He’s not with either parent, but the chances Biryukova is telling the truth are slim-to-none.  Someone has the child and that someone is conspiring to hide the boy from his father.  Such, at any rate, is my take on the situation.

No arrests have been made at this time,” [police officer Carla Iafrate] said. “All possibilities of what may have happened to the child are being investigated.”

She said there are still “many unanswered questions.”

You bet there are.  But however they’re answered, we all hope that little Sky is unharmed.  My money says he’s in the care of Biryukova’s co-conspirator.

With any luck, Biryukova will come clean about what she’s done with the little boy.  My guess is that will happen soon.  If so, it’ll be interesting to see what the family court judge does with the new information.  After all, if my take on the case is correct, we can now add an attempt to deprive Metalwala of his son forever to Biryukova’s previous maternal shortcomings.  Into the bargain, she’s needlessly involved the police and the FBI in her charade.

Will that be enough to convince the judge that Biryukova’s not fit to be a parent?  The fact that the local child welfare agency has taken Maile into care suggests caseworkers there think she’s not.  But of course they’ve also refused to give the girl to her father for reasons no one has yet explained.

So, despite everything, Solomon Metalwala is still being treated like a second-class citizen when it comes to his children.  Do we really expect a court to behave differently?

Maybe they should let a mediator decide.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

Parental Abduction – How bad can it be?


Leading experts believe that due to the rapid growth in multi-national marriages and relationships, the number of children born from parents of different countries will continue to expand.

Similar to all relationships, a significant portion of these marriages or partnerships will end in divorce. All too often, one of the separating parents of the child of the relationship will seek to abduct the child to a country other than where the child has lived. This is called ‘International Parental Child Abduction’, and though there are various civil remedies available to targeted parents who have had their child abducted, the challenges they face are grave, and include first and foremost, locating where the child is located.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Child abduction by parents among Indian diaspora raises concern


Source: Inewsone.com , New Delhi, June 19

(IANS) Increasing number of child abductions by parents among the Indian diaspora has become a cause of concern as India is yet to join the internationalconvention on the issue, a British minister has said.

‘The cases where a parent abducts their child and takes it away to India are problematic because India does not have laws to deal with parental child abduction,’ British Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone said here.

The minister urged the Indian government to accede to the UN Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The British minister was here on a three-day visit to India June 15-17 to seek greater collaboration between the two countries on the issue of violence against women and gender equality issues.

According to Featherstone, the UK government receives at least one complaint per month of alleged abduction of a child by a parent of Indian origin. There are about eight such cases currently being investigated, the minister said.

The children were abducted by one of the parents and brought to India in order to gain the advantage in matrimonial and child custody disputes.

Child abduction cases by parents are high in countries which have a large population of people of Indian origin such as the UK, the US and Canada.

About 70 children were abducted by parents of Indian origin in the UK in the past eight years, according to a report.

The US State Department’s Office of Child Issues, which helps in child abduction cases, is currently working on more than 100 cases of children taken to India without the consent of the parent left behind. The State Department has said that there are few remedies if a child is abducted to India.

There are more unresolved cases of parental child abduction from the US to India than any other country with the exception of Mexico.

About 85 countries have ratified the 1980 Hague Convention on Parental Child Abduction. Under the convention, member countries undertake to return children abducted by a parent to their homes under the jurisdiction of the courts in the home country.

Parental child abduction has become one of the many issues that have been added to the agenda for inter-governmental discussions with visiting delegations from the US, Britain and Canada.

Several NGOs and activists in India and abroad have urged the government to accede to the Hague Convention.

On the occasion of Father’s Day (June 20), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organisation, Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), has demanded that India ratify the Hague Convention and reform family law in India.

California-based Rakshak Foundation has also appealed to the union government to safeguard children’s rights and make parental abduction a cognizable, non-bailable crime.

Abduction of a child by one parent violates the child’s right to live in the security of the familiar home and prevents access to both parents. More and more child custody and abduction cases are landing in Indian courts relating to foreign citizens as well as non resident Indians (NRIs).

The Supreme Court has ruled recently that Indian courts have jurisprudence on child custody cases even if the child is a citizen of a foreign country. The courts apply the principle of best interest of the child, taking a foreign court decree as only one of the factors for deciding on the custodial dispute.

There have been occasions when the father had taken away the child from the country of residence, gone to India and left the child with his grandparents while he flew to work in a third country.

At other times, it is the woman who took the child on the pretext of visiting India.

Many abducted children are told that the other parent is dead or has gone away. Often one parent tries to poison the child’s mind to the other parent, which often causes psychological and emotional problems for the child.

‘Children in such cases are voiceless victims and their right to be connected to both biological parents needs to be protected,’ according to the Rakshak Foundation.

Often child custody cases lead to the child being deprived of the love, affection and care of one parent.

‘Joint custody and shared parenting are the best solutions for normal development of the child,’ the foundation said.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook