Calgary mom alleges ex-husband abducted son, 7, to live in Lebanon


September 12 , 2014

Source: CalgaryHerald 

Layale Khalifeh and her seven-year-old son Jad have a bedtime routine when they’re apart: they look at the moon and imagine the other is doing the same.

Layale Khalifeh

It was a ritual they practised during regular phone calls last month while Jad was in Lebanon with Khalifeh’s ex-husband, Mohamad El-Husseini.

But at the end of August, the phone calls stopped — and El-Husseini hasn’t come back with their son.

Khalifeh now believes her ex-husband has abducted Jad, and has turned to authorities to compel his return.

Amid her frantic efforts to find her son, Khalifeh said she draws some solace in the belief that Jad is thinking of her when he peers up at the moon.

“I know wherever he is, he’s still doing that,” she said Thursday.

Parental abduction cases involving Lebanon can be notoriously difficult to resolve, but Khalifeh said she won’t rest until Jad is back in Calgary.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring my son back,” she said.

El-Husseini had taken Jad to Lebanon and returned him without incident since the couple’s separation in 2011 — but what Khalifeh has uncovered in the past 10 days has the look of alleged plan to permanently leave Canada with the boy.

Khalifeh, 33, agreed to let El-Husseini travel with Jad to Toronto, then Lebanon, at the end of July for what he said was a family wedding.

Khalifeh signed a legal consent letter, which specified El-Husseini and their son would return to Calgary on Sept. 1.

The first sign something was amiss was Aug. 26, when Khalifeh phoned El-Husseini to speak with Jad — something she did every few days — and the call cut out.

“Since then, I have continued to attempt to contact him, but have not been able to reach him or our son,” she stated in her affidavit, filed in Court of Queen’s Bench last week.

The allegations in Khalifeh’s affidavit haven’t been proven, but were enough to obtain a court order granting her sole custody of Jad and compelling his return to Canada.

Khalifeh stated in the affidavit she went to El-Husseini’s house on Sept. 1 and no one was there — what’s more, the house appeared vacant.

She also found out another property of El-Husseini’s in Calgary was sold in June.

When Khalifeh called British Airways to see if the airline had any information about her ex-husband and son’s travel plans, she learned El-Husseini cancelled their return tickets last month.

That’s when Khalifeh went to Calgary police.

At the same time, Khalifeh’s parents, who live in Lebanon, contacted El-Husseini’s family in that country and found more disturbing news: the relatives said he quit his job in Calgary.

“(El-Husseini’s aunt) further advised that he had planned to move back to Lebanon without my consent,” the affidavit said.

Calgary police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for El-Husseini, 34, on a charge of abducting a child in contravention of a custody order.

However, the family court order and the Canadian warrant don’t have any authority in Lebanon, which has never signed an international treaty governing parental abductions, known as The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Police and Khalifeh’s lawyer, Andy Hayher, acknowledge the case is challenging to pursue from Canada.

“It’s very difficult in Lebanon to convince a court that a father has abducted his own child,” said Hayer, who is working on the case with a lawyer in Lebanon.

Khalifeh and Hayher have also contacted Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, who is Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Obhrai said consular officials in Lebanon will be pressing the case on Khalifeh’s behalf.

Local police, too, are working with counterparts across jurisdictions, such as the RCMP and INTERPOL. In the meantime, Khalifeh is trying to remain strong until she can see Jad, who was supposed to be starting Grade 2 at the Calgary French and International School.

“He’s my life. He’s my everything,” she said.

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Prevent International Parental Child Abduction: Letter of Parental Authorization for Minors Traveling


January 30 , 2014

Source: gomexico

In order to prevent international child abductions, many countries require children who are traveling without their parents to present documentation that proves that the parents authorize the child to travel.

American_Child

In the past, it was an official requirement of the Mexican government that any child entering or exiting the country should carry a letter of permission from their parents, or of the absent parent in the case of a child traveling with only one parent.

In many cases the documentation was not asked for, but it could be requested by immigration officials.

Since January 2014, new regulations for children traveling to Mexico stipulate that foreign children who travel to Mexico as tourists or visitors for up to 180 days only need to present a valid passport, and are not required to present other documentation. However, Mexican children, including those holding dual citizenship with another country, or foreign children residing in Mexico who travel unaccompanied by either parent are required to show proof of their parents permission to travel. They must carry a letter from the parents authorizing travel into Mexico. The letter must be translated into Spanish and legalized by the Mexican embassy or consulate in the country where the document was issued. A letter is not required in the case of a child traveling with only one parent.

Mother_Abduct_Child

Note that these are the requirements of the Mexican immigration authorities. Travelers must also meet the requirements of their home country for exit and return.

Here is an example of a letter of authorization for travel:

 (Date)

I (parent’s name), authorize my child/children, (child/children’s name) to travel to (destination) on (date of travel) aboard Airline/Flight # (flight information) with (accompanying adults), returning on (date of return).

Signed by parent or parents
Address:
Telephone/Contact:

Signature/Seal of Mexican embassy or consulate

The same letter in Spanish would read:

(Date)

Yo (parent’s name), autorizo a mi hijo/a (child’s name) a viajar a (destination) el (date of travel) en la aerolinea (flight information) con (name of accompanying adult), regresando el (date of return).

Firmado por los padres
Direccion:
Telefono:

(Signature / Seal of Mexican embassy) Sello de la embajada Mexicana

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Parental Child Abduction – A father’s hunt for his missing son


September 9, 2013

Source: Vancouversun

Maximus Kawabata-Morness is five. Max would have started kindergarten on Tuesday. But 42 days ago his mother abducted him and took him to Japan. Kris Morness has no idea where exactly his son is. Morness is heartbroken, frantic. But, sadly, he is not really surprised.

Ever since he and Chie Kawabata separated at the beginning of 2011, Morness has been dreading and expecting this.

Japan is a black hole for abducted kids. It does not recognize Family Court orders from other jurisdictions and has become a safe haven for parental child abductors. More than 300 Canadian-born children and 3,000 or more American-born children who have been abducted by their parents and hidden away there.

max

“I know I can’t reach her [Kawabata] through the law,” says Morness, who lives in Vancouver. “Japan is effectively immune.”

In desperation, the video game developer has taken the unusual step of crowdsourcing help through a website called http://www.ChieKawabata.com.

Morness hopes strangers will help him locate his son. And, because his ex-wife also works in the tech industry, Morness wants her current employer and any prospective employers to know that Kawabata contravened a court order forbidding her from taking Max to Japan and that police are recommending that Kawabata be charged with first-degree custodial interference in Washington state where she had been living.

(If convicted, Kawabata could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to a $10,000.)

Posted on the site are court documents and transcripts from the couple’s messy and lengthy divorce and custody proceedings, along with the police report confirming that Kawabata abducted Max on July 26 and Kawabata’s last email to Morness on Aug. 2.

In it, Kawabata says that she is in Osaka and has taken a leave of absence for the month of August to visit her cancer-stricken mother.

“The torment I have endured in recent years have left me (and therefore Max) emotionally ruined and have forced my hands to take this step that I wish I did not have to take,” she wrote, adding that Skype calls with Max could be resumed the next week “as I have never wanted to deprive you of time with Max”.

But since Aug. 2, Kawabata hasn’t replied to any of Morness’s daily emails.

(Kawabata also did not respond to my attempts to reach her via email and through social media.)

The website hasn’t yet resulted in any breakthrough tips. But news of Max’s abduction has been posted on various gamers’ websites, tech eZines and blogs.

 Missing Max: A fathers hunt for his missing sonOver the past three years, Morness has spent close to $80,000 in legal fees getting court orders to ensure that Max would spend half of his vacation time with his dad plus every other weekend in Vancouver and that three times a week, they would connect on Skype.

In March 2012, Kawabata went to court asking for permission to relocate to Japan with Max. The judge ruled that would not be in Max’s best interest.

A year earlier, Morness registered Max in a U.S. state department’s children’s passport issuance alert program for kids at risk of abduction.

Under that program, when a passport application is submitted for a registered child, the department and/or the passport agency must alert the other parent.

But somebody screwed up.

When Max’s passport came up for renewal in March, Morness gave the passport book to Kawabata.

Instead of only applying for a passport book, Kawabata applied for the book and a card, which is valid for American residents travelling to Canada and Mexico.

Regardless, Morness was not notified that Kawabata had applied for the two different travel documents. He found out only after Kawabata gave him Max’s card, but not the passport.

The department admitted the error, but refused to revoke the passport.

“I even went to the border to tell them my story and provided them a copy of all the relevant materials. They did nothing,” says Morness.

“I even asked the court to force her to surrender it, but they [the court] didn’t do it. And then she used it to leave.”

On July 26, Kawabata and Max boarded a plane in San Francisco bound for Tokyo.

Nobody stopped Kawabata. Unlike in Canada, the United States has no exit controls, no requirement for a parent to prove that the other parent is aware that the child is leaving the country.

On Aug. 9, the Superior Court of Washington granted primary custody of Max to Morness and instructed Kawabata to hand Max over to Morness and his passport within 72 hours of returning from Japan.

That’s not likely to happen.

Japan has yet to implement the 33-year-old Hague Convention. It passed the necessary legislation in June, but it is not yet in force.

Morness worries if his son doesn’t return soon, Max may be lost forever.

Without regular contact, the five-year-old might forget him.

Although Max has used Skype almost all his life, he needs help logging on. Max can’t read yet, so he isn’t able to find the website Morness has created, the photos Morness has uploaded to YouTube or respond to an email.

Worse, the longer Max is gone, the more likely it is that he will forget how to speak English. Morness only speaks English, yet it is Max’s third language.

Max’s first language is Japanese. Even though Kawabata was educated at American universities, she speaks only Japanese to Max and, up until last summer when Morness insisted that he go to an English-speaking daycare, Max had been going to one where only Japanese was spoken.

Max’s second language is Spanish, which is the language his nanny spoke to him.

With time working against him, Morness sends Kawabata an email every day requesting a time and date that he can speak Max via Skype.

Every day, he hopes for new information about the police investigation, Kawabata’s location and for news of Max.

Every day, Morness waits and hopes that Kawabata will have a change of heart.

 

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Kidnapping for Ransom Too Lucrative for Terrorists


July 7 , 2013

Source: ASP

Kidnapping Western nationals for ransom has unlocked an alarming source of funds for terrorist organizations, and current counter-strategies don’t seem to offer an effective deterrent.

Kidnapping

According to David Cohen at the U.S. Treasury Department, terrorist organizations have accumulated over $120 million through kidnapping for ransom (KFR) between 2004 and 2012—a fairly enticing supply of cash for organizations that have increasingly turned to criminal networks and techniques to finance attacks.

The U.K.’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism estimates that over 150 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by Islamist terrorist groups since 2008, many by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). In fact AQIM alone received an estimated $65 million in KFR payments between 2005 and 2011, with notable kidnappings that include the In Amenas hostage crisis and the abduction of a German, a Swiss, and two British tourists in Mali.

Providing a rare look into the inner workings of the AQIM organization, a few weeks ago the Associated Press discovered a letter (verified by the Pentagon) from AQIM leaders scolding Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the AQIM faction al-Mulathameen Brigade, for his handling of the hostage negotiations for kidnapped Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler.

While the letter did provide valuable insight into the inner workings of AQIM, it most notably confirmed that leaders recognize the profitability of KFR as a long term strategy and that they are confident in their ability to negotiate higher and higher sums.

Although Canadian officials denied involvement, the letter indicated that Belmokhtar had negotiated $1.1 million in ransom (“meager” by AQIM standards) to secure the release of captured diplomat Robert Fowler in 2009. Some argued that while the Canadian government may not have paid the sum directly, officials have not denied that a third party was involved.

Most Western governments denounce negotiating with terrorists, but with the exception of the U.S. and the U.K. few seem to actually adhere to this pledge.

g8The G8’s communiqué issued last week did include a staunch guarantee from all member states to not paying terrorist ransoms. In addition to the three T’s—trade, taxes, and transparency—on the agenda, the world leaders united to “unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists.”

This declaration marks an important step towards showing solidarity among world leaders and publicizing the issue of KFR in regions like North Africa. Higher awareness among travelers and private sector workers might be the best first step.

However given the inconsistency of governments in the past, the G8 declaration needs some more prescriptions to have consequence.

Interestingly the other recommendations that the G8 made to improve transparency and fight corruption could also help to mitigate KFR if thoroughly pursued, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

Pertinent FATF standards include:

  • Linking customs and tax agencies to prevent money laundering and cash couriers
  • Establishing financial intelligence units that track illicit money flow
  • Stricter requirements for financial institutions to report suspicious activity
  • Criminalizing funding a terrorist organizations regardless if those funds are linked to an attack

These will help expose private companies or third party organizations that may be paying ransoms, with or without government knowledge, and impose much stricter consequences.

One potential obstacle is the difficulty with which governments label terrorists. As terrorist groups and other criminal organizations collaborate more, radicals will begin to use criminal surrogates to kidnap foreigners and negotiate ransoms on their behalf.

01114013_Kenya_border_crossing_300

This aspect has to be approached at a local and regional level. The U.S. can work with high KFR risk nations to improve protection services and institutions, but regional cooperation must improve, especially in North Africa. Morocco and Algeria have to reengage and participate in organizations such as the Arab Maghreb Union. Intelligence sharing from local sources and border cooperation can effectively combat criminal and terrorist operations.

If AQIM and other groups continue to reap cash from the KFR industry, other efforts to limit terror financing will become futile. The U.S. and the U.K. must continue to press Europe to commit to non-negotiation, foster greater regional cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb, and increase public awareness of the high risk of kidnapping.

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International parental child abductions rise with global migration


February 26, 2013

Source: TheStar.com

As cross-border relationships become more common, so do cases involving kids seized and taken to another country. Left-behind parents want changes to the law.
stephen_watkins.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo

Stephen Watkins and sons, Alexander and Christopher. Police believe the boys are in Poland.

When a grandfather was found guilty last year of helping his daughter abduct her two boys to Poland, history was made. It was Canada’s first criminal conviction involving international child abduction by a parent.

Outside the Newmarket court where 78-year-old Tadeusz Ustaszewski’s sentencing was taking place, a group of Canadian parents held up signs and photos of their missing children, hoping to draw public attention to the issue of cross-border child abductions by estranged spouses.

Frustrated by legal bureaucracy, countries indifferent to Canadian court orders, and what they say is scant support from the Canadian government, left-behind parents have launched their own advocacy group. They plan to campaign for changes in the law to better detect and prevent child abduction.

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

STEPHEN WATKINS – FOUNDING MEMBER OF ICHAPEAU

So far, the group involves 13 families and 16 “lost” children. It is part of a growing movement in North America for stronger enforcement of the Hague Child Abduction Convention — a 32-year-old international treaty that deals with the return of children abducted by a non-custodial parent and transferred from one country to another.

“The fact is you have this melting pot of different nationalities. You date people of different nationalities, get married, have children — and they decide to go home,” said Stephen Watkins, a founding member of iCHAPEAU (International Child Harbouring & Abduction Prevention Enforcement Act Under-law).

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

With the ease of global travel and explosion of Internet romances, the world has become smaller. Romantic relationships — and breakups — that span national borders have become more common.

These relationship breakdowns, often nasty for adults in the same locale, can be even more complicated when children and multiple government jurisdictions are involved.

A 2012 study by Nigel Lowe and Victoria Stephens at the Cardiff Law School in the United Kingdom found that the global number of Hague Convention applications to retrieve an abducted child had risen by 45 per cent since 2003.

According to a U.S. State Department report, the number of new international parental child abduction cases in the United States alone has doubled since 2006, from 642 to 1,135, with the majority of cases involving children taken to one of the convention’s 89 signatory countries.

But the child return rate is far from satisfactory. In 2009, the report said, only 436 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in other countries were returned to the U.S. Of these children, 324, or 74 per cent, were from a convention country.

happy-children

“The goal of the convention is to establish clearly defined procedures for the prompt return of children . . . to provide an effective deterrent to parents who contemplate abducting their children,” said the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention.

“Unfortunately, current trends reflect a steady increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases and highlight the urgency of redoubling efforts to promote compliance with convention obligation and encourage additional nations to join it.”

A left-behind parent can apply through what’s known as the central authority of his or her country to have a wrongfully removed child returned to the place of “habitual residence.”

The parent must provide details of the case in the Hague Convention application, which will then be sent by the central authority to the foreign state to which the child was taken.

Once the application is received, the court in the receiving country must determine if the conditions set out for the child’s return are met and if any exceptions to the return of the child exist.

Canada does not maintain national statistics on the number of Hague Convention applications and number of child returns to the country, said Carole Saindon, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which oversees the central authority administration in Canada.

“It is important to note that a decision by a court not to order the return of a child does not mean that the convention is not being properly applied in that state,” Saindon said in an email.

“While a left-behind parent may not agree with the child leaving Canada, the situation does not necessarily constitute a wrongful removal or retention for the purposes of the Hague Convention.”

In instances where a left-behind parent is dissatisfied with the result, she said, the parent or the Canadian central authority can raise their concerns with the foreign central authority and attempt to resolve any issues.

However, “where a left-behind parent disagrees with the decision of a foreign court not to return his or her child, he or she needs to evaluate the matter in consultation with private legal counsel,” Saindon said.

The issue of international child abduction is not new, but it received global attention in 2008 with the case of Sean Goldman, the child at the centre of an international legal battle between his American father, David Goldman, and the family of his deceased Brazilian ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro.

After winning his son back in 2009 with a favourable decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, Sean’s father and his supporters, in the same year, established the Bring Sean Home Foundation, run by volunteers for the campaign to return internationally abducted children.

Most significantly, the foundation has been pushing for the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act (HR1940) — an inspiration for Watkins, whose sons, Christopher and Alexander, were taken to Poland in 2009 by their mother, Ustaszewski’s daughter, Edyta.

“The biggest reason the convention is largely inefficient is there are no penalties for non-compliance. There are no repercussions for not complying,” said Mark DeAngelis, the foundation’s executive director.

The bill, expected to be introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2013, proposes establishing an Office on International Child Abductions to promote measures to prevent abductions from the U.S., advocate for abducted children and assist left-behind parents in resolving their cases.

Watkins, of iCHAPEAU, said Canada should adopt a similar approach and penalize convention non-compliant nations by delaying or cancelling official visits and scientific and cultural exchanges; withdrawing Canadian development assistance; and restricting travel by their nationals.

“We need to impose sanctions against non-compliant countries,” said Watkins, adding that educating Canadian officials in child welfare and courts to flag at-risk cases is also key to abduction prevention.

Jeffery Morehouse of Bring Abducted Children Home, an advocacy group for American left-behind parents, agrees.

“We need to have an open public discussion of what’s going on,” he said from Washington. “We must step up and be vocal. Enough is enough. We are not going to condone the trafficking of children to a foreign country without recourse.”

More: The tales of four left-behind Canadian parents

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Parental abduction : Children in a Legal Vacuum: International Child Abduction


Source: Huffington Post / Natasha Kuilak Mellersh

Many of us take on work or studies in a foreign country, and some of us end up having a family with someone of a different nationality. All great for international understanding? Well usually. But if the relationship breaks down, this type of globally mobile lifestyle brings new challenges for the family courts. Where do you file for a divorce? What about custody and visitation? What if the custody battle turns acrimonious?

With the increase in transnational marriages, international parental child abduction has become a serious problem that affects both individual states and the international community.  Parents who feel unfairly treated by the family courts may  “forum shop” taking the kids into a new legal jurisdiction that will be more likely to rule in their favour, thus sparking a re-run of their custody case. The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is designed specifically to prevent this border-hopping between nations; signatory countries agree to accept decisions already made in another jurisdiction and to promptly return abducted children to their place of habitual residence.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also obliges states to ensure that national borders are not used to prevent children from having contact with their family. Signatory states commit to ensuring the continuity of a child’s life when a substantial part of it resides in another country.

Yet it is one thing to accept that is in the child’s best interests to maintain contact with their family and promptly return home; it is another to actually carry this out.

While international legal conventions are designed to regulate cross-border disputes and harmonise legal proceedings, these are not always enforced with appropriate urgency and are frequently evaded or blatantly disregarded. Although parental abduction has been defined as amounting to child abuse, the rights of the child are sadly often ignored in international abduction cases, with nationalistic posturing taking precedence.

Families living abroad are away from the steadying influences of friends and extended family, and may also slip through society’s safety nets of schools, doctors, social workers and counsellors. Who is going to follow up on a family that has moved abroad? Who will bother to find out the background of a family newly arrived in a country? If you don’t speak the language, how can you seek advice and counselling? National laws governing family issues must be adapted to the changing international culture and to reflect the ease of international travel and the transnational nature of many modern families.

US-Italy-Russia

The recent case of the Grin/McIlwrath children highlights the numerous failings of the Russian authorities to work together with their Italian counterparts to protect the children involved. Grin, a Russian-born US citizen who was living in Italy, abducted her four children from their American custodial father in Florence. She travelled to Russia with the children despite Italian court rulings which removed her custody rights and indicated that the children were at risk if they remained with her. Her children have since been placed in Chabad-Lubavitch institutes/orphanages in St Petersburg at her request “for their own safety”.

The plight of the children, who are fluent in both English and Italian, has not even been acknowledged by the Russian authorities. It appears that the obligation of the state to ensure their safety and well being, and contact with their family and friends in Italy in the US, has been completely overlooked since they have been moved into a new jurisdiction, despite the fact that Italy, the US and Russia are all signatories to the Hague Convention.

Russian authorities have similarly done nothing to end the children’s isolation from family and friends, nor ensured they are safe from the risks identified in the Italian court proceedings.

Canada-Poland

In a parallel case two Canadian boys, Alexander and Christopher Watkins, were abducted by their Polish mother after her custody was revoked due to child-neglect. The boys were taken via the US and into Germany where the trail went cold. The Canadian authorities voiced serious concerns about the safety of the children and the ability of the mother to care for them, an Interpol red notice was issued and the mother was put on Canada’s most wanted list. When the children were finally located in Poland, the father immediately applied to have the boys returned home. At the December hearing in Poland the judge ruled that the children are now settled in Poland and should not be returned to Canada. This is despite the boys’ school in Poland independently suing the mother for child neglect. The appeal will be heard on 16 May 2012.

Leaving the children in the care of a demonstrably neglectful and potentially abusive parent is a clear breach of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Refusing to return the children to the custodial parent is a violation of the Hague Convention. That Poland as an EU member state is not being held accountable for the misapplication of these laws and agreements as well as blatantly ignoring Interpol red and yellow notices raises concerns for the quality of European law.

Although both cases have a non European element they both involve EU borders. The issues of cross-border problems arising from divorce or family problems should be tackled more effectively within the EU. While there is often talk of the unification of laws in the EU there is a clear lack of co-operation when it comes to family law. In a region in which members of EU states can move freely between and within numerous jurisdictions the legal tools must exist to deal with the resulting problems of this freedom of movement.

It’s not clear why the Hague Convention is largely ignored in many states, possibly it is perceived by the national judiciary as meddling from outside, maybe it’s just a sign of the general distrust of and reluctance to co-operate with another country’s legal systems, or it could just be plain nationalism: siding with the parent of the same nationality.

If the unification of laws in the corporate sector is moving ahead, why are the laws governing our private lives being left behind? The creation of networks such as Interpol, Europol and various UN initiatives have offered little assistance in addressing problems arising from transnational familial relationships, especially those involving children. While numerous national and international legal measures have been created to uphold the rights of the child, their application has been limited. The enforcement of existing laws and international agreements has not been enough to protect children from the dangers of international child abduction.

Immediate action is essential in cases of child abduction because of the age and vulnerability of the children compounded by the volatility of a parent who is putting their own child through the trauma of abduction. Yet both Poland and Russia have failed to act on these cases, posing a serious risk to the children involved. The person posing the greatest danger to an abducted child is the abductor.

Follow Natasha Kuilak Mellersh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@tashalaws 

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Will missing kids be discussed when Polish PM comes to Ottawa?


Source: KJ Mullins from Newz4u.net .

On May 12 Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Donald Tusk will arrive in Canada for the first time. Families with missing children located in Poland are hoping that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will work on their behalf with Tusk while he’s in Ottawa.

Tusk will be in Canada to discuss with Prime Minister Harper the possibility of expanding trade with Poland.

Tusk’s arrival in Canada takes place the same day as the arrival of Canadian Stephen Watkins in Poland. Watkins will be in the Polish Hague Appeal Court, fighting for the return of his sons Alexander and Christopher.

Poland is one of the nations that have ignores international obligations when it comes to international parental child abductions. For two Toronto fathers caught in the battle of trying to bring their Canadian children home this refusal of Poland to carry through with Hague Court orders has been a costly nightmare.

Watkins has been well documented in his search for his sons Christopher and Alexander. In 2011 the boys’ mother was given limited parental rights by Polish Courts after she was reported by the children’s school. This took place prior to Canadian Authorities knowing of the “Watkins Missing Children” whereabouts.

Watkins was in Poland during December for the Polish Hague Convention Trial. It should have been a clear-cut case. Watkins had sole custody of the children prior to his ex-wife’s alleged abduction of them on March 8, 2009. Instead Polish courts ignored the International Hague Order.

Watkins will be arriving in Poland with two letters from Canadian officials already sent to Polish officials dealing with his case. The National Recognized Missing Children Organization of Poland, ITAKA, will also be addressing the court during his appeal trial.

Watkins said in an email of the situation, “The Polish Hague Convention Trial, which ended in December 15, 2011, refused to return my abducted Canadian sons, who were born in Canada and had never traveled to Poland before. I had been granted sole custody by the Ontario Courts after living with me full time since 2007 prior to their abduction by their non-custodial mother.”

Watkins is not alone. Grzegorz Nowacki, a Polish Canadian father from Toronto, is also trying to bring home his child, Aleksander Nowacki, from Poland since May 2011 when he was abducted to Poland by his wife. The Polish judicial system is treating this case as domestic case rather than a Hague Convention case and they are not honoring or respecting Ontario Court Orders. Mr. Nowacki applied for access visitation for his son in Poland during The Hague Court proceedings, but the Polish Judge rejected visitation which is in contravention of The Hague Convention Treaty. Mr. Nowacki also agrees that it is a struggle and injustice to get Poland to follow The Hague Convention Treaty.

Children caught in this battle deal with parental alienation, a form of child abuse. They are ripped out of the world they know and placed in situations that can be dangerous as the parent who abducted them tries to evade capture.

“Poland has a long proven history of being a non-compliant signatory of the Hague Convention Treaty and failing not only ordering the return children but also NOT enforcing the return of children all together. Is this a responsible Canadian decision by the Prime Minister of Canada to work with Poland knowing all this information in advance?,” asks Stephen Watkins, “If the Prime Minister of Canada won’t do anything… who will fight for the human rights for our Canadian citizens let alone for our Canadian Businesses?

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services
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Songs help musician cope with child abduction


Source: soundernews.com

As a 20-year music veteran, Lee Ellefson’s seven previous CDs have always been connected with business. His latest compilation, Galamae, is purely personal though, the result of a difficult time in Lee’s life – the abduction of his young daughter by her mother one-and-a-half years ago.
Named after his daughter, the CD is a collection of work the Gabriola-based musician has compiled over the last two years.
“Writing [the songs] was part of me processing the emotions,” Lee said. “The processing I think was healthy.”
The record is mostly jazz instrumental, Lee’s musical focus over the years, with some Latin influences. He recorded the album at Vancouver Island University where he is a guitar instructor in the music department.


“The writing just came – that wasn’t something I had to force,” Lee said of the process. “It wasn’t something I’d ever planned to do.”
Galamae is now over two years old and Lee has not seen her, nor even a picture of her, since she was taken. He continues to fight his ex-wife in court for custody. Galamae is living in Thailand with her mother who is married to another Canadian man.
“I was a father that was totally psyched about being a father,” said Lee. “My ex removed my child from a healthy situation; there was nothing abusive or dangerous about the life she had…. Her motivations, whatever they were, were selfish.” 
A concert is scheduled for April 12, 7 p.m., at the VIU theatre (building 310) where Lee will take the opportunity to discuss fathers’ rights and the court system. Tickets are available at Gabriola Artworks, Fascinating Rhythm and at the VIU music department for $12 ($10 for students). CDs will be on sale for $10.
“I’m hoping it helps me move forward a bit.”

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