Law Firm backs new international child abduction campaign -“Latest child abduction figures come as no surprise.


January 17, 2013

Source:bournemouthchamber.org.uk

A NEW campaign highlighting a big rise in the number of children abducted and taken abroad by an estranged parent has been backed by Chamber members Ellis Jones Solicitors. A total of 512 cases involving 84 different countries were reported to British authorities in 2011/2012, according to data from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). That compares with 272 in 51 countries in 2003/2004, an increase of 88 per cent in eight years.

UK-geo-stub

It is illegal for a parent to take a child overseas without permission from others with parental responsibility. However 24 per cent of Britons are unaware it is a crime, according to separate FCO research. The research revealed that although 74 per cent of people thought fathers were most likely to abduct their children, statistics from the charity Reunite International suggested 70 per cent of their cases concerned mothers taking a child.

Katie_Taft_Solicitor
The FCO has now launched a national campaign to highlight the issue. Katie Taft, a solicitor with Ellis Jones who specialises in child abduction work, said the national increase in cases was borne out by her own experiences.
The Dorset and New Forest law firm is a member of the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit specialist panel and a recognised expert, regularly representing both mothers and fathers to secure the prompt return of their child or children.

Katie said: “We’ve seen an increased workload over the last few years which is to be expected given the rise in the number of families with parents who originate from different countries. Therefore, the latest FCO figures really come as no surprise. Currently we’re handing a number of cases of this nature across the South of England. “Child abduction causes a huge amount of distress and we welcome the FCO’s decision to launch a national campaign to highlight the issue.

“It’s important that this subject is kept in the public spotlight and that parents think twice before causing significant distress to their children, and other members of the family, by even contemplating abducting a child,” Katie added.

Parents, or those with parental responsibility, who fear their child has been or is at risk of being abducted can contact Katie or Sean McNally on 01202 636223. Alternatively the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit can be reached on 020 7911 7047/7045 from 10am to 4pm.

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Parental Abduction: Sharjah mother: I am living a nightmare


Source: Gulfnews.com

Forcibly separated from her two sons, Sharjah mother fights back for their custody from husband

Sharjah: On August 12, Arafath will turn four. But his mother won’t be around to hug him. Instead Irum Iqbal will be kneeling down in prayer – a routine she has zealously followed every evening since January 13, the day Arafath and his younger brother, Hasanath, whom she was still breastfeeding – were snatched by her estranged husband and flown to Hyderabad, India without her knowledge.

Irum, 27, is a Pakistani citizen, while her husband, Mir Zarafath Ali, is Indian.

Given the thorny relations between the two countries, the likelihood of Irum going to India and wresting custody of her children, both Indian passport holders, is as minuscule as the eye of a needle.

Yet Irum is hopeful of being reunited with them. “I have faith in Allah. I am sure my prayers won’t go unanswered in this holy month,” she said wiping away her tears.

Irum has also moved the Sharjah Sharia Court seeking a divorce and custody of her children. On August 8, the court summoned Ali. He didn’t show up. Instead, he sent Irum a Letter of Reconciliation laying down some bizarre terms and conditions for his return. Among them: Irum will give him whatever she has earned since he has been away; provide a break-up of her expenditure all this while; agree to hand him whatever she earns in future; not maintain any social networking account; visit her family only once a week and not leave home without her husband’s permission.

Irum will forego the right to take legal action against Ali if she signs the draft, says a clause in the Letter of Reconciliation, a copy of which is with XPRESS. Ali has drafted a similar letter for himself.

Irum and Ali got married in the UAE in November 2006, but their bliss didn’t last long. They had regular fights. Irum claims the fights became more frequent and intense when Ali lost his job and his family business in Sharjah suffered losses. “He started to live off my salary. When that wasn’t enough, he started selling my jewellery. One by one he sold off all the pieces. I didn’t mind that as I wanted to salvage our relationship. But when he sold the last piece, he threw me out of the house. Two days later, he flew away with my kids to India. I am living a nightmare. In the seven months that have rolled by since then, there has not been a single day when I have not wept thinking about Arafath and Hasanath. They are so small. I don’t know how they are managing without me. Hasanath is not even two years old. I was breastfeeding him when he was taken away,” said Irum who works with a telecom service provider and currently lives with her parents in Sharjah.

Irum said she was emboldened to talk about her plight after coming across an earlier XPRESS cover story (June 16, 2011) on Dubai-based Maimouna Liskauskaite whose children were snatched by her husband under similar circumstances.

“I can relate to Maimouna as I am going through the same hell. When I read about her, I rang her up. We talked about our kids and tried to console each other. It was a futile attempt because towards the end both of us were crying.”

Desperate to have her kids back Irum has now urged Indian authorities and NGOs to intervene. “This is not about India and Pakistan, this is about a mother and her children,” she said.

P.K. Askok Babu, Consul (media) at the Consulate General of India admitted the case is “complicated”.

“It was brought to our notice after Ali had left for India. Ali had approached the Consulate… he has been advised to take the legal route to resolve the dispute with his wife,” Babu said in an e-mail statement to XPRESS.

On his part, Ali denies any wrongdoing. He said he was ready to accept Irum provided she signs the Letter of Reconciliation and mends her ways. “I have seen her smoking and drinking and have photographs to prove that,” he said over the phone from India. He said he has mailed the offending pictures to the judge, but refused to send them to XPRESS. “I respect the privacy of my wife and do not want to malign her.”

Irum ridicules the queer reasoning. “If he can talk about my supposed smoking and drinking habits, why can’t he send the pictures as well?”

Parental child abduction on the rise

Parental child abduction is proving to be a growing concern in the UAE. Experts reckon this is largely because of the country’s large expat community. A parent or grandparent could face legal action if he/she abducts his/her own child or grandchild from the person who has legal guardianship or custody as established by a UAE judicial decision. But since the UAE is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, foreign governments cannot enforce their own laws here. Statistics on parental child abduction in the UAE are hard to come by, but information released by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), gives an indication of the magnitude of the problem.

According to FCO, the UAE is one of the top locations for abductions of British children by one of their estranged parents.

The US State Department also reported seven cases of child abduction (under US law) in 2009 in the UAE involving nine children, up from six cases in 2008 and four cases in 2007.

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Police seek Holland-area mother, Wendi Carpenter, on parental kidnapping charge


By Staff reports
Holland police are looking for a local woman they say left the state with her two children after she failed to show up on Tuesday for a scheduled transfer of the children to their father.
Wendi Carpenter had the two young children for visitation during the summer but had to transfer the children to their father because of a court order, according to a news release from Holland police. After she didn’t show up to the Holland Department of Public Safety for the transfer, police started an investigation.Based on that investigation, police now believe Carpenter has fled the state with the two children, Luke Carpenter and Cambria Carpenter. Wendi Carpenter is wanted on a warrant for custodial interference authorized by the Ottawa County Prosecutor.She is listed as a practicing psychologist with two different nonprofit counseling groups, Healing Waters and Lakeshore Pure Freedom, both in Zeeland. Police did not release the father’s name.

The mother and children were last known to be in Holland, in the 300 block of Pine Avenue,  around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, police said. The mother and children left in her vehicle, a 2006 Toyota Highlander, police said, but that vehicle has since been located in western Missouri. They might have left that area in a dark-colored SUV.

The Holland Department of Public Safety is asking anyone with information as to the possible location of the mother or children to call the Holland Department of Public Safety Detective Bureau at (616) 355-1150 or Silent Observer at (888) 88-SILENT.

Published by: ABP World Group  Executive Protection
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INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL ABDUCTIONS A GROWING PROBLEM


Source:Weinman & Associates

Of the 1,500 children who were victims of international parental abductions in 2010, less than 600 were recovered and brought back to the United States. The State Department estimates one-third of those children were taken to Mexico by way of border states like Texas.

The government reports a startling number of children abducted by their parents in the last decade – nearly 7,000 between 2000 and 2009. Many of the children are taken during scheduled non-custodial parent visitations and whisked away to a foreign-born parent’s native homeland.

On September 1, Texas will enact a new law making child abductions a state felony, but lawmakers and watchdog groups say it is still too easy for absconding parents with children to get away. Border officials have no nationwide child custody database and airlines are too time-crunched to check passengers carefully.

One former criminal prosecutor and judge said if a child is not intercepted before leaving the country, the chances for the child’s return to the U.S. become slim.

Mexico is one of more than 70 countries that have agreed to abide by Hague Convention’s child abduction rules, insisting that children who are illegally relocated out of a country be returned to their homes. However, legal professionals say international courts get bogged down or distracted by internal conflicts, like the drug war in Mexico, and put child custody matters aside.

Parents caught running with children to a foreign land in violation of custody rules can be imprisoned for three years. Congressional leaders have introduced the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, which could potentially threaten various forms of U.S. assistance to countries that have poor records of helping to retrieve abducted children. Hopefully the government will be able to come up with an effective way to locate and return abducted children to the United States.

We can bring them home

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What happens if your ex abducts your child?


By STEWART M. POWELL HOUSTON CHRONICLE  – July 4, 2011, 7:19AM

International parental abductions are on the rise, and many of the children never return

WASHINGTON — For nine gut-wrenching years, Texan Greg Allen has been trying to track down his daughter after her mother absconded to Mexico with the 4-year-old during a rare unsupervised visit after the couple’s contentious divorce.

“When it first happened, I was unable to function,” recalls Allen, 42, an electrical engineer and sonar expert doing doctoral research at the University of Texas’ applied research laboratories in Austin. “I went from being a single parent whose whole life revolved around raising my daughter to being a left-behind parent whose purpose in life was gone.”

Last year, at least 1,500 children were unlawfully taken to foreign countries by a parent who had been living in the United States, including children who were taken even while a parent was serving in the U.S. armed forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. Only 578 abducted children were returned to the United States.

Many of the children – roughly one-third – ended up in Mexico because of the parent’s ties to extended family or Mexico’s proximity.

International parental abductions are “sharply on the rise,” cautions the State Department’s top official on the issue, Ambassador Susan Jacobs. “When an international border is involved, an already tragic situation for the children and left-behind parents is infinitely compounded.”

Congress’ investigative Government Accountability Office has documented at least 6,966 cases of international parental abduction over the decade ending in 2009, most by foreign-born parents returning to their country of birth.

Yet, as Allen learned only too late, chronic ambiguities routinely enable parents to abduct their children and get away with it. Local police rarely take missing child reports arising from custody disputes. Customs and Border Protection agents do not check departing parents or children at airports or border crossings. Fully half of left-behind parents surveyed by the American Bar Association, for example, said ex-partners abducted their children during routine court-approved visits.

No national database

Federal authorities do not maintain a national database of child custody orders from local courts that might help suspicious immigration officers determine the status of a departing child.

Even if the paperwork were available, international airlines routinely have no more than 30 minutes to match a passenger manifest against a missing child report or a court order barring departure.

Abducting parents can face up to three years in prison for taking their child to a foreign country “with the intent to obstruct a parent’s custodial rights.”

A Texas law taking effect Sept. 1 makes the abduction a state felony, as well.

“The reality is, once an abducting parent gets a kid to the departure gate, they’re gone,” says Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, a former criminal court judge and prosecutor who has been working for more than five years to help Houston resident Marty Pate recover his daughter Nicole from Brazil. “Once a child leaves the United States, it’s very, very difficult to get them back.”

Allen miraculously spied his daughter Sabrina in Mexico City in 2003 and subsequently visited her school to talk with her teacher. But the girl and her mother, Dara Marie Llorens, fled and have not been seen since.

Even in the 71 nations such as Mexico that have signed the 1980 Hague Convention on child abduction, local court proceedings can drag on. The accord is designed to speed repatriation of abducted children under the age of 16 to their “country of habitual residence” to resume court-ordered child custody arrangements.

But court proceedings often get sidetracked, particularly in Mexican states engulfed by the drug wars such as San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas.

“We have judges who are afraid to do anything,” says attorney Pamela Brown of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid in Weslaco, who handles about 20 international child abduction cases a year to and from Mexico. “Judges are terrified that the taking parent might have ties to the cartels so they won’t step in.”

Adds Allen: “With a civil war going on down there, child abduction is just not a high priority.”

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/chronicle/7638140.html#ixzz1R96U7CM5

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Dads warned to look out for signs of parental child abduction


30 JUNE 2011 – Fatherhoodinstitute.org

Dads are being advised on how to prevent their children’s mothers abducting them and taking them abroad.

According to a new Government campaign,  every other day a British child is abducted by a parent to a country which has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on international parental child abduction*.

The latest figures represent a ten per cent increase in new cases handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2010/2011 and have been released to mark the launch of the FCO’s child abduction prevention campaign.

Evidence shows that many cases occur around school holidays when a parent refuses to return a child following a visit to the parent’s home country. In most cases these abductions are perpetrated by mothers.

Last year the FCO handled cases in 97 ‘non Hague’ countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. These are countries which have not signed up to the 1980 Hague convention on international parental child abduction and with whom negotiating the return of children to the UK can be extremely complex as there are no international agreements on returning children.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Jeremy Browne said the campaign will help people become more aware of what they could do if they think their child may be at risk.

“We are very concerned that we continue to see an increase in the number of cases of international parental child abduction. The latest figures suggest the problem affects people from all walks of life and not just certain types of families or particular countries. 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.”

Sharon Cooke, Advice Line Manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, welcomed the latest advice and said while sometimes there were no warning signs, there are things people could look for which may indicate their child was at risk.

“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; 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 said.

“For many people the issue of parental child abduction is something with which they may not have had direct personal contact. 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.

Sharon says, “The latest figures show just how widespread this problem has become. Our statistics for January to May 2011 show a 21% increase in the number of abductions to non-Hague States states compared to the same period last year. We have also seen a 21% per cent increase in the number of parents requesting advice on prevention of abduction. This demonstrates there is a need for information on preventative steps that a parent can take and it is essential that we continue to raise awareness of parental child abduction, after all it could happen to anyone.”

“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. Even after they have been found, the fear and pain of not knowing if they will return home is unimaginable.”

“If you are worried your child might be at risk, or if your child has been abducted you can call the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0878 or http://www.fco.gov.uk or reunite on 0116 2556 234.

*”The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multi-lateral international treaty the aim of which is the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or wrongfully retained away from the country where he or she normally lives, so that issues of residence (which parent a child should live with), relocation (which country a child should live in) and contact (access) can be decided by the courts of that country. “All cases that come under the Hague Convention are dealt with by one of the three Central Authorities in the UK (the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit covers England and Wales and there are two separate bodies for Scotland and Northern Ireland). To find out which countries are part of this Convention, visit http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=24

**Top 5 non-Hague countries with the largest number of new parental child abductions in 2010/11

Country 2009/2010 2010/2011

All non-Hague countries 146 161

Pakistan 24 21

Thailand 13 13

India 14 9

Algeria 0 9

Malaysia 6 7

Further information on parental child abduction can be found at: www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/when-things-go-wrong/child-abduction.

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Abductions: The UK-Pakistan Judicial Protocol


By: FCO Child Abduction Section

If your child has been taken to Pakistan the UK-Pakistan Judicial Protocol may apply.

In January 2003, senior judges from the UK and Pakistan signed the UK-Pakistan Judicial Protocol on Children Matters.

This is an understanding between the judges of each country that the courts of a child’s home country are best placed to determine the welfare of that child.
When a child is wrongfully removed from or retained in the UK or Pakistan, the principle is that a child should be returned to his or her home country so that the courts can hear the case.

A system of liaison judges in the UK and Pakistan facilitate the working or this protocol.  The liaison judges ensure that the courts in each other’s country are aware of any pre-existing court orders from the child’s home country.

See the ‘Useful documents’ link to the right for:

  • the text of the UK-Pakistan Judicial Protocol on Children Matters (January 2003, London)
  • the Supplemental Judicial Guidelines on the UK-Pakistan Protocol (September 2003, Islamabad)
  • the agreed points from the Panel Session Meeting with the UK-Pakistan Judiciary (February 2006, London)

If you choose to pursue the return of your child to the UK under the UK-Pakistan Protocol, you’ll need to commence legal proceedings first in the UK courts and then in the Pakistani courts.  Your first step should be to consult a lawyer in the UK.

We have produced a short leaflet on the protocol available in English and Urdu.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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