In International Child Abduction Cases – quiet diplomacy is not working


December 29, 2013

Source:  Washington Post

SEAN GOLDMAN was 4 years old when his Brazilian-born mother took him from their New Jersey home for what Sean’s father, David Goldman, thought would be a two-week vacation. Five years passed before the father again laid eyes on his son.

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“It was very painful,’’ David Goldman recalled. “The first time I saw him after nearly five years, he looked at me and asked me where have I been all this time. . . . He was told that I didn’t love him, that I abandoned him, that I never wanted him.”

The only unusual feature of this story is that David Goldman eventually regained custody, though even after the boy’s mother died in 2008 her Brazilian family continued to resist his efforts. He succeeded in part because Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)relentlessly focused attention and pressure on the case. Now a bill written by Mr. Smith, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, has been approved by the House, 398 to 0, and is set for consideration in the Senate. But the State Department doesn’t want the additional diplomatic tools the bill would provide.

According to State, 1,144 children were reported abducted from the United States in 2012. There were 1,367 in 2011 and 1,492 in 2010. State Department officials say they work hard to get those children back — or at least to get the cases fairly adjudicated — but they can’t or won’t say how many of those abducted children remain overseas. That raises questions about their claims for success for “quiet diplomacy.”

In a letter to Mr. Smith, Robert E. Wallace, executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), said the abduction of children by a separated spouse is a particular problem for service members, especially in Japan. Mr. Wallace said the service members’ appeals for help “are too often met with bad legal advice, misinformation or indifference. . . . It is time for the U.S. government to take concrete action.” An organization of victimized parents said that the result of quiet diplomacy is “that the Government of Japan has not once assisted in returning a single abducted child.” Japan at least is in the process of acceding to an international treaty on the subject; most countries have not done so.

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The House bill provides for a series of graduated sanctions against countries that demonstrate a pattern of non-cooperation; it also would encourage the United States to negotiate agreements with countries that have not ratified the treaty. In both cases, the executive branch would act only if it chose to do so; the bill provides for a presidential waiver. Nonetheless, a State Department official told us putting tools in the tool kit would be counterproductive because U.S. officials would face pressure to use them and other countries would resent the implied threat.

Given the administration’s inability to quantify its success, or to report any results at all, the argument for the status quo is not persuasive. An aide to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told us that the committee will take the measure up soon. We hope soon means soon. For thousands of parents deprived of the chance even to communicate with their children, quiet diplomacy isn’t getting the job done.

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Dominican Republic: A Haven for Parental Child Abductions


August 23, 2012

Source: prlog.com

In January 2011 the two children of Robert Makielski where illegally taken to the Dominican Republic by their mother, Maria Rivera-Estevez. The mother removed the children from Virginia without the father’s authorization as required in a current custody order. The existing court order defined the U.S. as habitual residence for the children. On July 25, 2012 the Dominican Republic’s Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling denying the children be returned to their habitual residence.

Culpeper, Va. 7 August 2012 A Virginia father faces overwhelming odds to have his two children returned from the Dominican Republic. After using the “Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” process the Dominican Republic Court of Appeal denied the return of the children based on a grave risk exception. The Dominican Republic now has case law that will make difficult to return any abducted child to their habitual residence.

“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of child abuse”

In February 2011, Mr. Makielski filed a Hague application (The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or Hague Abduction Convention) with US State Department in which he accrued considerable expenses to have all documents translated to Spanish. Although there was a pending divorce on the Culpeper circuit court docket, Maria Rivera had filed for divorce and custody in the Dominican Republic.  In violation of Hague article 16 the Divorce was heard without Mr. Makielski’s knowledge.  He had to retain counsel in the Dominican Republic to have the Dominican divorce dismissed.

For the Hague application, the first hearing took place in May 2011 where the judge ruled to allow the mother time to gather additional evidence.  Contradictory to the Hague treaty, the Dominican Judge ordered the father’s physical presence in the D.R. court.  Due to threats posted by parties related to Ms. Rivera, the father’s availability via online video conference, and his safety and security could not be guaranteed; he did not travel to the country. The judge refused to allow him to appear by video conference. Additionally, a representative from the US embassy was not permitted to attend the hearings. Two further hearings took place in June.  The Dominican judge did not allow the parties or their attorneys to be present during the testimony of the daughter; only the Judge and the 2 Dominican psychologists were present.  In July the hearings continued.

The father provided translated and apostilled documentation showing he had no pending charges, no criminal record and no sex offender record existed. On August 4, 2011, Consejo Nacional Para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI the Dominican Central Authority) and father’s Attorney presented closing arguments requesting the return of the children. On October 4, 2011, The Dominican court released its decision to deny the return of the children based on Article 13b of the Hague treaty. Article 13b states an application for return can be denied if there is a grave risk that a return would expose a child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation. An Appeal was filed and heard on December 14, 2011 and July 17, 2012. On July 25, 2012 the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s ruling.

In April 2011 the U.S. embassy performed a Health and Welfare visit. The mother has refused to allow any subsequent visits. Since then the mother has prohibited any further visits with the children. The Dominican Republic Government has not allowed Mr. Makielski any contact with his children. He has not seen or heard from his children since January 18, 2011.

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The children were located in the ”Ensache Ozama” neighborhood of Santo Domingo where they are now are exposed to an extremely diminished standard of living.  Since then that have moved to another barrio close by in Santo Domingo Este. At the time of the removal, the daughter was enrolled in the public schools gifted student program. The World Economic Forum ranks the DR at 139 out of 147 for education. Compared to their home in the US, this neighborhood suffers from the social problems of high crime, lack of garbage collection, frequent blackouts and unclean water.

To learn more about this parental abduction, visit http://storify.com/guitarski/a-dominican-parental-child-a…

About the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
The objects of the present Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State; and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States.
The Hague Conference has currently 72 Members including the United States. The Dominican Republic is not Member of The Hague but has ratified and acceded to the Hague Convention.

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Kidnapping mum faces four years in prison


Published by The Local, 5 July 2011

An eight-year-old, kept hidden in the Dominican Republic from her Swedish father for four years, is back with her family in Sweden. 

“That feels good, but I still miss my mother a lot,” said the girl when questioned by the police.Her mother is now being charged for child abduction. The woman denies the crime, stating that she had good reasons for living there with her daughter for 3.5 years, according to newspaper Metro.
The girl has been in Sweden for a month now, living with her father, his new wife and her two baby sisters, according to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN). Her father hopes she will be able to see her mother in the future.The mother is currently jailed and waiting for trial. She faces up to four years in prison for abducting her daughter.

“My interpretation of the situation is that prison time is reasonable, and not in the lower end of the scale,” said prosecutor Hélène Dalhammar to DN.

Before being reunited with her father last month, the eight-year-old girl had not seen him since January 2007.

The parents were involved in a drawn-out custody case, in which the father wanted shared custody, but the mother demanded sole custody, claiming she was concerned there was a risk for sexual abuse.The court dismissed these claims and finally decided to grant the father sole custody, but the day before the court’s decision came into effect, the mother disappeared with her daughter.

The future remains uncertain as to whether the girl will be able to see both her parents without risk for another abduction.

“We can only hope the situation can be solved in time,” said Dalhammar to DN.

 TT/Clara Guibourg (news@thelocal.se)

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International Child Abduction / Parental Kidnapping – Recovery Services


International Child Abduction is tragically a global epidemic.

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. Unfortunately for the majority of targeted parents, the financial burden for recovery and litigation falls on their shoulders. With tens of thousands of children parentally abducted each year, the reality is too many of these children never come home. ABP World Group is dedicated to assisting parents in need of assistance in locating, rescuing, and safely bringing home your abducted child.

Our intelligence and investigation abilities combined with our ability to dispatch personnel to most locations in the world offer a safe and strategic solution to protecting your most important asset: your child.

Areas of expertise:

Parental abduction

Missing children

Kidnappings

Counter Kidnapping

Anti Kidnapping

Runaway children

Reunification Counseling

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult period. We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

One key to ABP World Group’s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available including, but not limited to:

Electronic Forensic Foot printing Investigations

Intelligence Gathering

Information Specialists/Skip Tracing

Evidence Procurement

Interview/Evaluation

Surveillance Special Ops

Non-Combatant Evacuation Ops

Domestic Support

International Operations

Maritime/Land/Air transport

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