Disturbing figures reveal Greater Manchester had almost twice the national rate of child abductions and kidnappings


September 10, 2014

Source: manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

Crying-child

GMP investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

Greater Manchester had nearly twice the national average rate of child abductions and kidnappings last year, the M.E.N. can reveal.

Police investigated 46 abductions and 20 kidnappings of children across the region between April 2013 and March this year.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT), show that in 2013/14, GMP recorded 2.4 incidents of the crimes for every 100,000 people. The national average is 1.3.

There were seven incidents where parents abducted their children. Parental abduction often happens when the couples separate or begin divorce proceedings.

Figures show that more than two children, on average, were abducted or kidnapped every day in England in 2013/14.

The statistics – from 36 out of 39 police forces – show that there were 504 child abductions and 302 child kidnappings between April 2013 and March 2014. In 30 per cent of child abduction cases, the child was abducted by a parent.

Further figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of child abductions across England and Wales rose in 2013/14 for the first time since 2004/05; from 513 to 569 – an 11pc increase.

Child abduction is the act of taking a child away from their family, carer or person who has lawful control of the child without consent or lawful justification. Kidnap is similar, but the child is usually imprisoned.

Stockport MP Ann Coffey, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said: “These figures for Greater Manchester are very disturbing. It must be terrifying for a child to experience abduction or kidnapping. Everything possible must be done to return missing children as quickly as possible.

manchesterimage 

“We clearly need to find out the reason why Greater Manchester appears to have a higher number of abductions and kidnappings than some other areas, because it’s not clear to me why that is.”

Geoff Newiss, director of research at PACT said the figures only paint half the picture, with many abductions, particularly by parents, going unreported.

He added: “These new figures illustrate that Greater Manchester is not immune from the problem of abduction. Abduction covers a broad range of offences, including custody disputes, grooming offences, stranger sexual abuse and revenge attacks.

“A number – of all types – of abduction are not reported to the police.”

Commenting on the findings, Detective Superintendent Jon Chadwick, from GMP, said: “Although the figures are higher the national average, the number is still very small within a county that holds a population of just under three million people.

“However, protecting the children of Greater Manchester is one of the Force’s priorities and we take all reports of child abduction seriously, thoroughly investigating each case.”

Charity’s schemes will help protect children

Charity bosses are raising awareness of abduction and kidnap figures to highlight two new resources to protect children – the UK Child Abduction Hub and Child Rescue Alert.

Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) and Missing People are urging people to make use of the services, with abduction rates rising for the first time since 2004/5.

The UK Abduction Hub, set up with cash from the People’s Postcode Lottery, gives information and advice on child abduction.

Child Rescue Alert allows anyone to sign up to receive free alerts – by text, email or via social media – if a child is taken in their area.

Kate McCann, mother of missing Madeleine, launched the new Child Rescue Alert on International Missing Children’s Day earlier this year.

katemcann

Kate McCann (left), mother of Madeleine McCann, and Coral Jones, mother of April Jones, at the launch of the new Child Rescue Alert earlier this year

Bosses say abduction comes in many different forms, of varying severity, and that government statistics do not provide the level of detail required to fully illustrate the risks.

The new services, they say, could save a vulnerable child’s life and are aimed at making sure every family across the fact knows the facts about abduction and kidnap.

 

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20 Years Later, Man Wanted in Parental Abduction is Back in St.Thomas


January 22, 2013

Source: AM980

A 51-year-old man is now in custody of St.Thomas Police, 20 years after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with an alleged case of parental abduction.

st_thomas

A warrant was issued for Benham Slim back in 1993 after Police say he fled to Beirut, Lebanon with his three little girls – aged 2, 6, and 7 – and had no plans on returning to Canada.

Four years later, in 1997, Slim was arrested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, but was released on bail after promising to return the children, and appear before the courts the following year.

Slim did neither, and an additional warrant was issued for his arrest.

In early 2003, 10 years after they disappeared, all three girls were re-united with their mother who had since moved to Texas.

Slim, however, remained at large.

He wasn’t picked up until late October of last year by Police in Detroit where he’s remained in custody while Police in St.Thomas and the Crown Attorney’s office began the extradition process.

Just recently, the 51-year-old waived extradition to Canada and has now arrived back in St.Thomas to face parental abduction charges from 1993, as well as charges related to skipping the country back in 1998.

 

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The Algerian fuck-up – 35 killed in an attempt to rescue the hostages


January 17, 2013

Source: Daily Mail,

‘Al-Qaeda have got me’: Trapped oil worker’s desperate phone call to family from Algerian gas siege where ’35 hostages were killed’

  • Stephen McFaul barricaded himself into room as militants raided complex
  • Was on phone to family who heard gunfire in distance as line went dead
  • But he managed to escape as Algerian forces launched bungled rescue
  • David Cameron said Britain should be ‘prepared for the possibility of further bad news’
  • Prime Minister said one British national has been confirmed dead
  • Helicopters ‘began strafing’ complex, also killing 15 militants, claim rebels
  • Militants had earlier threatened to blow up the hostages if they intervened
  • Al-Qaeda group also demand safe passage out of facility with the hostages

Algeria-Terror

An oil worker held hostage at an Algerian gas plant made a desperate ‘last phone call’ to tell his family he had been captured by al-Qaeda hours before a botched rescue attempt killed up to 35 foreigners.

Stephen McFaul, who later escaped, barricaded himself into a room with dozens of others as armed militants stormed their compound in the remote African desert.

Islamic extremists launched an attack on BP’s Saharan oil field in revenge for France’s crackdown on rebels in neighbouring Mali. Britain is providing support and so became a target.

As the terrorists closed in, the 36-year-old father made what he feared may be his final call his family to say ‘al-Qaeda have got me’, his brother revealed today.

Mr McFaul’s family today revealed that he managed to escape alive, but up to 35 others are feared dead after Algerian forces launched air strikes overhead in a bid to rescue the trapped workers.

The assault on the was made without warning Western allies including David Cameron.

Fighting back tears, Mr McFaul’s brother, Brian, said of his sibling’s frantic phone call: ‘They locked themselves in a room for safety.

‘At that stage they heard gunfire. They kept talking and he gave me a text, but then we lost contact.

‘Than at 9am that morning he phoned saying al-Qaeda have got me’.

Mr McFaul’s family have told of their joy after receiving a phone call from him at 3pm today saying he was alive and well.

His 13-year-old son, Dylan, told the BBC: ‘I can’t explain the excitement. I can’t wait until he gets home. I’m going to make sure he never goes back there.’

His father, Christopher, added: ‘The last 48 hours have been hell, but as a family we have been very strong.’

algeria_terrorism

 

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Criminal prosecution can play a significant role in international child abduction cases


Source: voltaantonio.com

Criminal prosecution can play a significant role in international child abduction cases. However, it can be a double-edged sword. Some courts use the possibility of criminal prosecution against an abducting parent as a reason not to order a child’s return.

Interpol Notices

One of Interpol’s most important functions is to help police in member countries share critical crime-related information using the organization’s system of international notices.

Notices can be issued in cases of international child kidnapping.

The notices include:

Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998

18 USC § 3181

SEC. 202. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that—

(1) each year, several hundred children are kidnapped by a parent in violation of law, court order, or legally binding agreement and brought to, or taken from, the United States;

(2) until the mid-1970’s, parental abduction generally was not considered a criminal offense in the United States;

(3) since the mid-1970’s, United States criminal law has evolved such that parental abduction is now a criminal offense in each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia;

(4) in enacting the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 (Public Law 103–173; 107 Stat. 1998; 18 U.S.C. 1204), Congress recognized the need to combat parental abduction by making the act of international parental kidnapping a Federal criminal offense;

(5) many of the extradition treaties to which the United States is a party specifically list the offenses that are extraditable and use the word ‘kidnapping’, but it has been the practice of the United States not to consider the term to include parental abduction because these treaties were negotiated by the United States prior to the development in United States criminal law described in paragraphs (3) and (4);

(6) the more modern extradition treaties to which the United States is a party contain dual criminality provisions, which provide for extradition where both parties make the offense a felony, and therefore it is the practice of the United States to consider such treaties to include parental abduction if the other foreign state party also considers the act of parental abduction to be a criminal offense; and

(7) this circumstance has resulted in a disparity in United States extradition law which should be rectified to better protect the interests of children and their parents.

SEC. 203. INTERPRETATION OF EXTRADITION TREATIES.

For purposes of any extradition treaty to which the United States is a party, Congress authorizes the interpretation of the terms ‘kidnaping’ and ‘kidnapping’ to include parental kidnapping.

Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State:

The Possibility of Extradition

The United States Department of Justice, not the United States Department of State, is responsible for pursuing extradition of wanted persons. Through INTERPOL and other international links, national law enforcement authorities in many countries regularly cooperate in the location and apprehension of international fugitives.

Extradition, the surrender of a fugitive or prisoner by one jurisdiction for criminal prosecution or service of a sentence in another jurisdiction, is rarely a viable approach in international child abduction cases. Extradition is utilized only for criminal justice purposes in cases that prosecutors believe can be successfully prosecuted due to the sufficiency of the evidence. Prosecutors may decide not to proceed with a request for extradition for a number of different reasons. Moreover, it must be remembered that extradition does not apply to the abducted or wrongfully retained child, but only to the abductor. There is no guarantee that the child will be returned by foreign authorities in connection with extradition of the alleged wrongdoer. Threatened with impending extradition, abducting parents may hide the child or children with a friend or relative in the foreign country.

Another reason that extradition may not be useful in a given case is that the offenses of parental child abduction or custodial interference are sometimes not included in the U.S. Government’s extradition relationships with some foreign countries. The United States now has extradition treaties now in force at this point with over 120 foreign countries. Some of these are “dual criminality” treaties while others are “list” treaties. In each case, in order for conduct to be an extraditable offense under a particular treaty, the conduct in question must be (1) be extraditable under a given treaty, the conduct in question must be considered a crime in both countries, and (2) and also included as an extraditable offense under the treaty. In this respect, the United States Government has two kinds of extradition treaties, “dual criminality” and “list” treaties.

Dual Criminality Treaties: U.S. Government’s Most modern extradition treaties (i.e., generally those concluded after 1980) usually include a “dual criminality” provision. This means that persons generally may be extradited under the treaty if their conduct is a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment in both countries.

As a result, if the illegal conduct involved in a particular parental child abduction or custodial interference case is a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment in both the United States and the foreign jurisdiction country concerned, then that conduct would be considered an extraditable offense under most extradition treaties that are based on “dual criminality” extradition treaties. (A small number of the U.S. Government’s dual criminality treaties use periods other than one year as the measure for extraditable offenses.)

If the conduct is not criminalized a crime in either the United States or the foreign country, then it will not be an extraditable offense.even if our treaty with that country is a modern “dual criminality” treaty.

List Treaties: The U.S. Government’s older extradition treaties (generally those concluded before 1980) typically contain a list of covered offenses that are extraditable under the treaty. In this respect, nearly all of these older treaties include the word “kidnapping” in their list of covered extraditable offenses. The Extradition Treaties Interpretation Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-323) makes clear that the word “kidnapping” as used in these older treaties can encompass parental kidnapping. If, however, the conduct is not a crime criminalized in the United States or the foreign country, then it will not be an extraditable offense even if the word “kidnapping” is included in the relevant list treaty.

Despite the fact that parental child abduction may be covered by certain extradition treaties, you should be aware of potential difficulties in utilizing them. Apart from the possible counterproductive effects already discussed, specifically, most all civil law countries (in contrast with common law countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia) refuse to extradite their own nationals. Nearly all the nations of Latin America and Europe are civil law countries. Whatever the terms of any applicable extradition treaty, experience has also shown that foreign governments are generally reluctant (and often simply unwilling) to extradite anyone (their own citizens, United States citizens, or third country nationals) for parental child abduction.

For extradition to be possible, therefore:

· The local and/or federal prosecutor must decide to file charges and pursue the case, and you should be prepared to testify in any criminal trial;

· There must be an extradition treaty in force between the United States and the country in question;

· The treaty must cover parental child abduction or custodial interference;

· If the person sought is a national of the country in question, that country must be willing to extradite its own nationals; and,

· The country in question must be willing to extradite persons for parental child abduction /custodial interference (i.e., not refuse to do so for “humanitarian” or other policy reasons).

International Parental Kidnapping Act

The International Parental Kidnapping Act (18 USCA 1204), enacted in 1993, is an important component of the international family lawyer’s arsenal.

It makes it an offense to remove or attempt to remove a child who has been in the United States from the United States , or retain a child outside the United States, with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights. The offense is punishable by a fine under Title 18, imprisonment for not more than three years, or both.

The statutory language is as follows:

18 U.S.C. § 1204. International parental kidnapping

(a) Whoever removes a child from the United States, or attempts to do so, or retains a child (who has been in the United States) outside the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.

(b) As used in this section—

(1) the term “child” means a person who has not attained the age of 16 years; and

(2) the term “parental rights”, with respect to a child, means the right to physical custody of the child—

(A) whether joint or sole (and includes visiting rights); and

(B) whether arising by operation of law, court order, or legally binding agreement of the parties.

(c) It shall be an affirmative defense under this section that—

(1) the defendant acted within the provisions of a valid court order granting the defendant legal custody or visitation rights and that order was obtained pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and was in effect at the time of the offense;

(2) the defendant was fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence; or

(3) the defendant had physical custody of the child pursuant to a court order granting legal custody or visitation rights and failed to return the child as a result of circumstances beyond the defendant’s control, and the defendant notified or made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent or lawful custodian of the child of such circumstances within 24 hours after the visitation period had expired and returned the child as soon as possible.

(d) This section does not detract from The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, done at The Hague on October 25, 1980.

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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.

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Three-year journey ends after abducted boy and his mother caught and sent home


Source: Fathers 4 Equality blog

A BRITISH mother abducted her six-year-old son and spent three years country-hopping through Asia before settling in Melbourne, where she was finally taken to court and ordered to return home.

According to a Family Court judgment published this month, the mother and father of the boy were in the midst of a custody dispute when the mother said she was taking their son on a two-week trip to the Philippines to visit his sick grandmother. They never returned.

A court order seeking information about the trip went unanswered and, several months later, an English judge found that the child – referred to in court documents as ”B” – had been unlawfully removed.

Believing that his son was in the Philippines, which is not a signatory to the 1986 Convention on International Child Abduction, the father feared that there was little he could do to get the boy back.

The mother and son did not stay in the Philippines but embarked on a three-year journey which included a tour of Hong Kong, Macau and China, followed by a three-month stay in Malaysia.

They returned briefly to the Philippines but left again to spend a year in Dundee, Scotland, before eventually arriving in Melbourne.

The pair moved into a flat in Melbourne’s western suburbs, where they lived for eight months until last April.

Nearly three years after leaving England, the woman finally contacted her former partner, telling him that she and B were in Australia and asking him to sign documents so the child could remain there permanently.

The father refused and went to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit, which immediately contacted the State Central Authority of Victoria.

The woman was tracked down, her passport seized and she was ordered to appear in the Family Court.

During the ensuing court case, the mother said her former partner had initially consented to B living with her overseas and had known about the year spent in Scotland. She said that she had tried unsuccessfully to contact him via email.

However, the woman conceded ”quietly [and] with a sense of resignation and disappointment” that the removal of the child was against the law and they would have to return home.

The mother and child were due to fly back to the UK on April 19, last year.

by Paul Bibby

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International Parental Child Abduction : Fathers pay price when mothers take children


Source: Irish Times – Irishtimes.com

JOHN WATERS

DESPITE ONE-THIRD of births occurring in non-marital relationships, unmarried Irish fathers remain deeply ignorant of their legal situation.

Under Irish law, such fathers have no automatic right to the day-to-day care of their children (“custody”) or to a say in the upbringing of their children (“guardianship”). What they have is the right to apply to a court, which may then extend rights of guardianship and custody according to the nature of the relationship between the child and the father, a matter almost invariably dictated by the attitude and behaviour of the gatekeeper-mother.

Although mischievous agents propose that the high numbers of Irish unmarried fathers neglecting to apply for guardianship is evidence of indifference, the fact is that many fathers, reluctant to initiate legal proceedings that might create a conflict where none exists, tend to leave well alone.

This leads to extreme difficulties when mothers abduct children to other jurisdictions and fathers find themselves bereft of legal standing.

Almost all European countries now make legal provision for the concept of the “de facto family” – which extends legal recognition in situations in which unmarried parents and their children have lived together in quasi-marital situations. This can enable an unmarried father who has no formal guardianship order to invoke the Hague Convention in the event that his child is abducted. Irish law is noticeably out of step in the recognition of such “inchoate rights”.

The man in the street may attribute this circumstance to oversight. Alas, it arises from the ideological outlook of the Irish State, which is determined to withhold from unmarried fathers anything but the most minimal recognition forced upon it by international law.

The lay person, too, might surmise that, all things being equal, the objective of the Irish State will always be to strive towards just and equitable resolutions, subject only to whatever legal impediments may arise.

Alas, in abduction situations where the abductor is the mother, such an assumption would be mistaken.

In fact, the pattern of behaviour by the Irish central authority in these matters – ie the Department of Justice – is to turn its back on fathers whose children have been abducted, even when the destination country is reluctant to accept jurisdiction.

This policy became clear over the past 18 months, in a case arising from the refusal of a mother to bring her two children back to Ireland after a summer holiday in New York. For six years the father had lived in Ireland with his children, in virtually every respect as though married to the mother. In August 2010, the mother told him she and their two children would remain in New York, where she was moving in with a man she had met on Facebook.

The children had been born in New York, which meant that the father was their legal guardian under US law. He had the right to apply to a New York court, but felt that to do so would be to acquiesce in what had happened.

He wished to have the matter adjudicated in Ireland, where his children had lived almost all their lives. He approached the Department of Justice but was told that, since he did not have guardianship here, there was no legal recourse under the Hague Convention.

Proceedings were initiated in New York by the mother, while the father began seeking guardianship under Irish law. In November 2010, he was granted a guardianship order. Because this application was initiated within a statutory six-month period stipulated by New York law – in effect confirming the children were for legal purposes still habitually resident in Ireland – and since the father continued to reside here, the New York court ruled that the case should be determined by the Irish courts.

All that was required was for an Irish court to issue a temporary custody order in favour of the father, and the New York court could have ordered the return of the children here.

The next step was to persuade the Irish court to do the decent thing. Three hearings, in August, October and November 2011, were adjourned in turn because the judge was away. Although it was implicit in the New York decision that, by issuing a guardianship order, the Irish court had already accepted jurisdiction, the Irish judge refused to communicate with his counterpart in New York.

Instead, in the end, he wrote to the New York court handing over jurisdiction, unwittingly confirming that, contrary to the assertions of the Department of Justice, the Irish court already had jurisdiction. Thus, in December, this Irish father was forced to surrender to the jurisdiction of an American court.

These Irish proceedings, involving 12 court appearances and nine different judges over 15 months, cost this father more than €20,000.

For years I have been meeting men like this, trying to help them deal with the inscrutable processes that “legal advice” forbids me from describing in the only terms I can adequately and reasonably describe them.

I observe with dismay that things are growing worse, not just in the treatment of such men and their children, but even more ominously in the studied avoidance of these matters by other journalists who make much of calling authority to account except here, where the sleep of justice is more implacable than anywhere else.

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Increase In Parental Child Abduction From UK


8:26am UK, Wednesday June 29, 2011

The numer of abductions of British children by parents who then take them abroad has risen by 10% in the past year – prompting a campaign to combat the problem.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the latest figures show one British child is taken every two days – a total of 161 in 2010/11.

The number taken to countries that have not signed up to an international treaty designed to ensure the return of minors who are wrongfully removed from the UK was up from 146 and 105 in the previous two years.

And it is feared the numbers may be even higher because of those that go unreported.

Countries that have not signed up to the 1980 Hague Convention are not compelled to abide by a UK court order.

The most obvious warning sign is a break down in a relationship but other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child.

FCO minister Jeremy Browne hopes the campaign will help people understand what they can do if they think their child may be at risk.

“The latest figures suggest the problem affects people from all walks of life and not just certain types of families or particular countries,” Mr Browne said.

“Finding a solution can be especially difficult if a child has been taken to a non-Hague country as there are no international systems in place to help you.

“This is why prevention is so important. The FCO will do whatever we can to provide advice and support but our role is limited, not least because we cannot interfere in the laws of another country.”

A child's bike

Evidence shows many abductions happen around school holidays when a parent refuses to return a child following a visit to the parent’s home country.

The problem has become widespread, with figures last year showing the FCO handled cases in 97 “non-Hague” countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The message will be passed through websites Mumsnet and the Fatherhood Institute to spread the prevention message and make people aware of the support it can provide.

Sharon Cooke, from Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, said while sometimes there were no warning signs, there were things people could look for which might indicate their child was at risk.

“The most obvious warning sign is a breakdown in a relationship,” she said.

Jeremy Browne MP

FCO minister Jeremy Browne is backing the scheme

“Other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child; a change in circumstances such as leaving employment or redundancy, selling a house or giving up tenancy.

“There may also be a sudden change in contact arrangements or constant difficulty in being able to see the child.”

She added: “There’s often a perception – fuelled by a number of high profile cases – that it’s about fathers abducting their children.

“However, statistics show it is mainly mothers – either intentionally or unintentionally.

“The psychological impact on children can be traumatic and for the left-behind parent, the shock and loss are unbearable, particularly if they don’t know where their child is.”

:: Anyone worried their child might be at risk, or whose child has been abducted, can call the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0878.

People can also log on to the FCO’s website or contact Reunite on 0116 2556 234.

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Custody Laws – Violating the Custody Order Through Parental Kidnapping


If you are lucky to have your child back after he or she was kidnapped by your ex-spouse, you will now have to deal with another nightmare: the resulting trauma on your child.

The effects of parental kidnapping are emotionally, developmentally and psychologically devastating on children who in a moment were stolen away from their entire world of familiarity. Parents stealing children after a high conflict custody battle is not uncommon. Surprisingly more than 50 percent of these kidnappings take place during a scheduled visitation after which the child is not returned.

Taking a child away and concealing his or her location to the custodial parent in violation of a visitation order is a crime and a form of child abuse. Parental abduction has permanent ramifications in the victim’s life. The emotional effects on the abducted child can be as harmful as those of sexual abuse or neglect. After such an experience, children tend to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

In her presentation to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights titled “Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse”, Dr. Nancy Faulkner identified nine of the many harmful effects parental abduction can have on a child:

  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Fear and Phobias
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Guilt
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Parental Alienation
  • Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment
  • Grief

If you have been in a prolonged and highly conflictive custody and visitation battle, you must rigorously adhere to the guidelines in the order. The same is applicable to your ex-spouse. He or she must abide to the time share percentages and visitation calendar conformed in the order. Many custodial parents are so drained after a custody dispute that they avoid having to go to court in order to enforce or modify the order. However, it is your obligation to watch over your child’s health, safety and welfare. A parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule or percentages of time share is not acting right. He or she is acting in contempt of the court. He or she is been disrespectful to you, to your child, and to our legal system. This parent is not a good role model for your child, and in fact, he or she might turn out to be a bad influence for your kid.

Repetitive violations to the custody and visitation order mean that you must go back to court to have the order enforced. The parent who regularly fails to comply with the visitation schedule is relating in an erratic and unhealthy manner with your child. This type of conduct should be addressed and penalized from the very start, in order to avoid a more serious violation, such as your child being kidnapped by your ex-spouse.

Find out about the custody laws that will impact your case, and learn how to get the custody order you want.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Caleb_Jonsun

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Father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


Source:  Jessica Rush, Planojobs.us June 13, 2011

Ronnie Baker / Staff Photo –For the last two years, Plano father Bart Hermer has dedicated his life to seeing his daughter returned from overseas. Alessia was abducted by her mother and represents one of more than 200,000 family abduction cases in the United States every year
Bart Hermer carries a pacifier with him at all times. It’s purple with flecks of glitter and has the words “Princess Alessia” scrolled across the plastic.
He keeps the soother as a small comfort of his own — a reminder that his 2-year-old daughter, Alessia, is still out there and waiting to be reunited with her father.For now, Alessia lives in the United Kingdom with her mother, 40-year-old Simmone Cohen, who is a British citizen. Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally.

Every night, Hermer sleeps on a bed in the nursery to feel closer to his daughter, but an empty crib is a constant reminder that the woman who first stole his heart, also stole his most precious possession.
Blindsided
Hermer and Cohen’s relationship started out as a picture-perfect romance. He fell for her British accent and stunning looks when they met on a single’s cruise in 2007, and months later they were visiting each other’s countries. The aging couple talked about both wanting children, so within a matter of months they were engaged.”I swear on my daughter’s life, heart and soul we never had an argument,” Hermer said, reflecting on the blissful times. “We were the envy of everybody we knew.”

The two began planning for a wedding at the Dallas Arboretum — plans that were delayed when Cohen found out she was pregnant with Alessia. When the baby was 10 months old, Cohen planned a regular trip for the three of them to visit her family in London. Hermer said he had just been laid off from his job as an advertising executive, but Cohen had income from her marketing business she ran from their Plano home.

While going through customs at the London airport, Hermer was pulled aside and questioned. A customs officer accused him of trying to enter the country with the intention to live there — information Hermer’s fiancee had told them. As much as Hermer denied the story, he was sent back to the United States alone, and Cohen and Alessia remained in England.

“I was set up,” Hermer said. “The truth was she just wanted a baby.”

Back in Texas, Cohen’s designer clothes still hang in the closet. Her laptop was left behind, and a Plano detective confirmed in writing that she wrote messages contradicting their happy engagement.

“I definitley [sic] don’t want to marry him,” Cohen wrote in one Skype message to a family member. “… he knows I am delaying things so he may have guessed,” she wrote to a friend.

“She played him like a sucker,” Hermer’s mother, Kathy, said. “She lied about everything.”

An epidemic
The Hermer’s are not alone in their daily struggle with parental kidnapping. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) estimates more than 200,000 family abduction cases occur annually in the United States.

In cases involving children taken from the United States to the United Kingdom, 92 percent of cases are unresolved for longer than a year, and 38 percent are unresolved for more than five years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hermer has tried to use international child abduction laws from the Hague Convention to get Alessia back. Article 3 of the convention talks about the “rights of custody” and says the courts must use the law of the state — in this case Texas — where the child was a resident before being abducted.

Even with letters of support from Texas Senators Florence Shapiro and Jane Nelson and state Rep. Jerry Madden, most of Hermer’s evidence was not allowed in the British court.

“I was not given a fair trial,” Hermer said. “I have solid evidence from credible people … and that evidence was not allowed. A lot of these countries will not return a child because of gender bias.”

After a crushing loss with denial of appeal, Hermer is trying a different approach. He hopes Attorney General Greg Abbott will push to have Cohen extradited to Texas on felony kidnapping charges.

“If my child stays there, it sets the precedent for thousands of children in the future,” Hermer said.

Time is ticking
Two years have passed with Hermer devoting his life to studying state and federal parental kidnapping law. He now works as assistant director of the Global Missing Children Fund.
Precedence from other international kidnapping cases shows that courts consider a child acclimated to their new country once they reach 3 years old. After that point, the courts are reluctant to return the child.

“I’ve got six months,” Hermer said, desperation in his voice. “She’s my life. She’s my pride. I don’t want to catch up with her in my 70s.”

He sees her occassionally when he is allowed to enter England for scheduled court hearings, but the trips are expensive and visitation is never guaranteed.

“When they are together it’s like they’ve never been separated for a moment,” Kathy said. “They had such a tight bond.”

Hermer is praying that someone will hear Alessia’s story and know how to help. While he is openly thankful for the ongoing support from Jewish Family Services, a separate fund has been set up for donations to offset some of the court costs at www.firstgiving.com/Bring-Alessia-Home.

“I’ll never quit until she’s in that crib,” he said. “I don’t care what it takes.”

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