Parental Kidnapping – Rise in abductions of Boston’s migrant children


October 23 , 2014

Source: bostontarget.co.uk

Law firms have reported a rise in the number of abduction cases involving Boston’s migrant children.

Parental Child Kidnapping

Both Sills and Betteridge and Ringrose Law say they have noticed an increase in the number of children being taken to another country by one parent without the other’s consent following family breakdowns.

They have also seen a number of parents deliberately take their child abroad, often under the premise of a holiday, then fail to return.

Yvonne Clarke, a solicitor and partner at Sills and Betteridge and based in Boston, said cases have increased along with Boston’s population over the last three to four years.

 Parental Kidnapping

“I don’t think before then we had any,” she said.

“Abduction is a very emotive word, but if you are taking a child without the other parent’s consent, particularly if they have parental responsibility and equal rights to you, you are abducting them.

“You are taking the child away from another parent. Anybody should think twice before doing that and should take legal advice before leaving the country.”

Both Yvonne and Lincoln-based Sills and Betteridge colleague Chrystal Theofanous have earned resolution accreditation for international child abduction cases.

It means they will deal with cases handed down by the International Child Abduction Unit at the Ministry of Justice.

“If a child has been abducted inside of the UK then any cases dealt with through the unit which are nearest to Lincoln will come through our firm and be dealt with by either Yvonne or myself,” Ms Theofanous said.

Most cases don’t become criminal investigations, as the parent can apply for their child to be returned using the Hague Convention and get help from solicitors.

However Nichola Skayman, children’s legal adviser for Ringrose Law, said the firm wanted to work with police to help prevent abductions happening in the first place.

“I am trying to organise a conference as this is happening more and more,” she said.

“If they are aware of the implications, they may be able to assist us and say don’t leave, go and get separate legal advice.

“It is really trying to get the word out. We probably get one a month where this is happening. I have never had one that is not from the migrant community. It ranges from babies to 10 and 11-year-olds.

“You are taking the child from everything they know.

“They might have been brought up in a Polish family in England where they have lived and went to an English speaking school and that is where their friends are, so it is very alien for a child.”

She added: “The main thing is that we don’t want the child out of the country. As soon as the child is gone it is harder.”

Joanne Orton, advice line co-ordinator for child abduction charity Reunite, said preventative measures could help.

“It is so cheap now to get flights into and out of the country,” she said.

“Where possible, if there is a real imminent threat of a child being taken, speak to the police and see if they can put an alert in place.

“If you know where it is, hide the child’s passport. If not, it is down to a lawyer to get in court orders in place.”

Legal help is automatic for child abduction cases in countries which are part of the Hague Convention, using civil action to help the parent who has applied for their child to be brought back.

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Plano father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


July 13 , 2013

Source: Star Local News

“Hermer and his parents have spent around $75,000 on an international custody battle that has left them drained both monetarily and emotionally”.

Bart Hermer

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.

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.

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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Call for child abduction UK ‘hub’


May 23, 2013

Source: expressandstar.com

Experts are calling for better recording and sharing of information to help tackle child abduction in the UK.

British-Child

 

A national child abduction “hub” should be created to give a clearer picture of the problem and provide data and support to improve how agencies deal with abductions, according to Ceop, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT).

A report from the two organisations found that almost half of child abduction cases reported in the UK between 2011-12 were committed by strangers. The report was based on police data that included 592 cases involving 675 victims.

In 42% of police reports – 247 out of 592 cases – the abductor or would-be abductor was not known to the child. A further 17% were abducted or victims of attempted abductions by a parent, 2% by another family member and 35% by someone known but not related to the child. Another 4% were by unknown offenders.

The report, “Taken – a study of child abductions in the UK”, warns that at present the true extent of child abductions is “impossible” to calculate with the necessary accuracy because of inconsistencies in the recording of offences.

It reveals that details of different types of child abductions and held by police forces, government, legal bodies and voluntary agencies, but says that this information is not always published or made routinely available.

The report, which comes ahead of International Missing Children’s Day on Saturday, sets out 14 recommendations, including agreeing a UK-wide definition of child abduction and improving how police record and respond to incidents. It also calls for a revamp of current “stranger-danger” warnings for children, and suggests there should be better learning from why so many attempted stranger abductions fail.

Kidsentfuhrung

Geoff Newiss, PACT’s director of research and author of the report, said: “This new report exposes the reality of child abduction in the UK today. Whilst children are abducted by parents and people known to them, a large proportion of incidents still involve strangers, often trying to lure a child into a car, and sometimes succeeding in doing so.”

Lady Catherine Meyer, founder and chief executive of PACT, said: “Many will find its revelations shocking. More importantly, by showing the extent of this hidden scandal, PACT’s report provides a vital platform for future action. The next stage of our work will be entirely focused on the practical steps necessary to protect our children from the would-be abductor.”

In 2011, Ceop took over the national strategic lead on missing children and now collaborates with partners to better understand and address the issue. Chief executive of Ceop, Peter Davies, said the report shows the immense harm that child abduction can do. He said: “Together with our partners, we must constantly redouble our efforts to reduce the risk to children. International Missing Children’s Day is a good opportunity for us to reflect on this important and complex issue.”

 

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What can I do if my child is abducted?


June 30, 2012 – ABP World Group Child Recovery Services

Source: takelegaladvice.com

International child abduction is on the increase, according to family lawyers.
This fact is highlighted by the latest case to hit the newspapers – a seven year old child living abducted by her father Clark Rockefeller, during a supervised visit to him in America.
Reigh Boss, who lives in London with her mother, has not yet been found and, according to the press,  it seems that her father planned to take her, with  Reigh bundled into an accomplice’s waiting car, despite the attempts of a supervising social worker to stop him.
As family lawyers point out, marriages between couples of different nationalities have become more common over the last few decades – and international child abuction is consequently on the increase. Travel is now between countries and continents, which makes it  easier to abduct children.
Since it is usually the mother with whom young children are living, fathers are more often the abductors. (This is not correct. Red.) Mothers stands for approx.70% of all the abduction cases.
The problem has become so acute that the majority of civilised countries have signed international agreements to ensure that their courts will order the return of a snatched child to the parent from whom he or she was removed.
Sadly, there are some countries which are not signatories to these agreements.   When a child is removed to one of these, it may be difficult or even impossible to recover the child.
If you are afraid that your child might be abducted and taken abroad  by the other parent, you can alert your local police station.
If the threat of removal is ‘real’ and ‘imminent’ and you have evidence  to support your fear, police will circulate details of the possible abductor and child to all UK points of departure via the Police National Computer.
You can also write to your regional office of the UK Passport Service requesting them not to grant a passport to your child.
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit [ICACU] is the authority responsible for  dealing with child abduction in England and Wales.
If you believe that your child is in danger of being abducted, ICACU advise that you keep the following information, or as much as is possible, ready:
On the Child:  – full name
-date and place of birth
– passport number, date and place of issue
-photographs or a physical description
– any entitlement to a passport other than a British passport
On the Person Who has Taken the Child:
– full name [including prior or maiden name and any aliases if applicable]
– date and place of birth
– passport number, date and place of issue
– photograph or a physical description
-occupation
– probable date of departure
– departure information [eg flight, train, ferry]
–  details of ties to a foreign country – eg names, addresses and telephone
– numbers of relatives, friends or business contacts.
 
Copies of Documents:
–  any agreements or court orders which relate to the child
– child’s birth certificate
– marriage certificate or divorce decree
– name and address of solicitor [if you have one]

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Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 1


ABP World Group Child Recovery Services 


Imagine…

You are in the kitchen cooking dinner while your children are playing in your front yard. When you go outside to call them in, they are gone.

Imagine…

You drop off your child at school before work. When you arrive to pick her up in the afternoon you are told that someone else has already taken her.

Imagine…

You wait for your former spouse to return your son following a schedule weekend visit. When your child isn’t returned, you go to the other parent’s home only to discover that the apartment has been vacated.
The physiological response in each of these situations is the same. Your heart begins to pound and your adrenaline starts to surge through your veins as the realization dawns that your children are gone. In an instant your brain considers possible explanations, but they each defy logic. Your brain already knows what your heart is desperately trying to deny. Your children have been kidnapped.
There are few horrors that can rival the experience of having one’s child kidnapped. Movies and television shows sensationalize child abduction. The nightly news further distorts correct understanding of child abduction by only reporting on the most dramatic of cases, for example, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. There exists, however, a less-glamorous form of child abduction which is perpetrated by the child’s own parent.
Parental Kidnappings
Each year there are more than 350,000 child abductions in America. The vast majority of these kidnappings are perpetrated by one of the child’s parents. The official term for this type of crime is “parental child abduction”, but it is also referred to as a “child kidnapping” or “child snatching”. Regardless of the terminology, the fact that the child is taken by the other parent does not diminish or negate the raw emotional trauma inflicted upon the other parent.

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful abduction of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of their lawful custody of the child.  In divorce situations, the abductor may be the custodial or the non-custodial parent. This means that even if the abductor is the custodial parent or primary caregiver, if the abduction deprives the other parent of his or her court ordered visitation time then the custodial parent is guilty of parental child abduction.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted an intensive and thorough research study on child abduction in America. The project is called the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The section that focused specifically on children abducted by family members is called NISMART-2. This article extensively references the NISMART-2. The original study may be found at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org

Defining Parental Child Abduction

“For the purposes of NISMART-2, family abduction was defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.”
The NISMART-2 elaborates on the definition above by further defining the following terms:
  • Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact or visitation.
  • Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more difficult.
  • Intent to deprive indefinitely: Family member indicated intent to prevent contact with the child on an indefinite basis or to affect custodial privileges indefinitely.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Of the 203,900 parental child abduction cases studied, 57% were labeled as “caretaker missing”, meaning that the victimized parent did not know where the child was for at least 1 hour, became alarmed and searched for the missing child. However, the NISMART-2 reveals:
“It is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but for that child’s whereabouts to be fully known. Thus, a child can be abducted but not necessarily missing.”
In fact, the study found that 43% of the children kidnapped were not thought of as “missing” by the victimized parent because the child’s whereabouts were known to the victim parent.
“Although the family abductions described in this study typically had certain disturbing elements such as attempts to prevent contact or alter custodial arrangements permanently, they did not generally involve the most serious sorts of features associated with the types of family abductions likely to be reported in the news. Actual concealment of the child occurred in a minority of episodes. Use of force, threats to harm the child and flight from the State were uncommon. In contrast to the image created by the word ‘abduction,’ most of the children abducted by a family member were already in the lawful custody of the perpetrator when the episode started. In addition, nearly half of the family abducted children were returned in 1 week or less.”
Even if the child is not considered missing, the abduction is still considered child abuse because of the damage that it inflicts upon the child. The NISMART-1 found that, “family abduction can result in psychological harm to the child” and the NISMART-2 states that “family abductions constitute an important peril in the lives of children it is important to remember that the potential harm to family abducted children exists whether or not they are classified as missing”.

Characteristics of Parental Abductions

Location and Season. 73% of parental abductions took place in the child’s own home or yard, or in the home or yard of a relative or friend. Children were removed from schools or day care centers in only 7% of the cases. In 63% of the cases, the children were already with the abductor in lawful circumstances immediately prior to the abduction.

Police Contact. In 40% of all cases, the aggrieved parent did not contact the police to report the abduction. The study found a number of reasons for this, but the majority of responses indicated that the parent did not believe that the police would intervene in the matter because the child’s whereabouts were known, they were in the care of a legal guardian, and it did not appear that the child was being harmed. The highest percentage of abductions took place during the summer.

Ages. 45% of abductors were in their 30’s. 44% of abducted children were younger than age 6.
Indicators of serious episodes. “The use of threats, physical force, or weapons was relatively uncommon in family abductions.” 17% were moved out of State with the intent to make recovery more difficult. 44% were concealed, at least temporarily, from the victimized parent-+. 76% included attempts to prevent contact. 82% included intent to permanently affect the custodial privileges of the aggrieved parent.

Conclusion

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.
When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

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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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Parental dilemma: Whether to spy on their Kids – parenthood and paranoia often walk hand in hand.


Source: David Crary

– In the 21st century, parenthood and paranoia often walk hand in hand.

For some, the blessed event is followed by high-tech surveillance – a monitoring system tracks the baby’s breathing rhythms and relays infrared images from the nursery. The next investment might be a nanny cam, to keep watch on the child’s hired caregivers. Toddlers and grade schoolers can be equipped with GPS devices enabling a parent to know their location should something go awry.

To cope with the uncertainties of the teen years, some parents acquire spyware to monitor their children’s online and cell phone activity. Others resort to home drug-testing kits.

Added together, there’s a diverse, multi-billion-dollar industry seeking to capitalize on parents’ worst fears about their children – fears aggravated by occasional high-profile abductions and the dangers lurking in cyberspace. One mistake can put a child at risk or go viral online, quickly ruining a reputation.

“There’s a new set of challenges for parents, and all sorts of new tools that can help them do their job,” said David Walsh, a child psychologist in Minneapolis. “On the other hand, we have very powerful industries that create these products and want to sell as many as possible, so they try to convince parents they need them.”

Some parents need little convincing.

In New York City, a policeman-turned-politician recorded a video earlier this year offering tips to parents on how to search their children’s bedrooms and possessions for drugs and weapons. In the video, State Sen. Eric Adams – who has a teenage son – insists that children have no constitutional right to privacy at home and shows how contraband could be hidden in backpacks, jewelry boxes, even under a doll’s dress.

“You have a duty and obligation to protect the members of your household,” he says.

Another parent who preaches proactive vigilance is Mary Kozakiewicz of Pittsburgh, whose daughter, Alicia, was abducted as a 13-year-old in 2002 by a man she met online. He chained, beat and raped her before she was rescued four days later.

In recent years, mother and daughter have both campaigned to raise awareness of Internet-related dangers.

Mary Kozakiewicz urges parents to monitor children’s computer and cell phone use, and says those who balk out of respect for privacy are being naive.

“It’s not about privacy – it’s about keeping them safe,” she said,

On a different part of the spectrum are parents such as Lenore Skenazy, a mother of two teens in New York City who wrote a book called “Free Range Kids: How To Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).”

Skenazy, who let one of her sons ride the New York subway alone when he was 9, contends that many marketers exploit parents’ ingrained worries about their children’s safety.

“The idea is that the only good parent is a parent who’s somehow watching over their child 24/7,” she said. “You feel nothing should take precedence over monitoring your child’s well-being every second of the day … from time they’re born to when they go off to college.”

Joe Kelly of St. Paul, Minn., helped his wife raise twin girls (they’re now adults) and founded a national advocacy group called Dads and Daughters. Like Skenazy, he bemoans commercial exploitation of parental anxiety.

“Markets play on this fear that something horrific is going to happen to your child, when the odds of that are minuscule,” he said. “It might happen, but to have their whole childhood predicated on this remote possibility is, in the aggregate, even more damaging.”

Psychologists who work with troubled adolescents and teens say parents often ask if they should be doing more surveillance.

“Ideally, parents establish good open communication and trust with their children, and they don’t need to do all these things,” said Neil Bernstein, a psychologist in Washington, D.C. “But if the child is doing something to create suspicion, you can’t expect parents to turn their back and not monitor.”

Bernstein, author of “How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to do if You Can’t,” says the best approach is a balanced one – neither overly zealous and paranoid nor uninvolved and neglectful.

A look at some of the monitoring tactics and products available to parents:

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Baby monitors:

These devices – some limited to audio monitoring, others also with video capability – have developed a reputation as a mixed blessing. They can provide parents with peace of mind, freeing them to be elsewhere in the house while the baby naps, but sometimes they accentuate anxiety.

“Some parents are reassured by hearing and seeing every whimper and movement. Others find such close surveillance to be nerve-racking,” says Consumer Reports, which has tested many of the monitors.

Skenazy likened night-vision baby monitors to the surveillance cameras used by convenience stores and prisons.

“It’s treating your child’s bedroom as if it’s the streets of Kandahar,” the battle-scarred Afghan city, she said.

The monitors operate within a selected radio frequency band to send sound from a baby’s room to a receiver in another room, a technology which can be vulnerable to interference from other electronic devices. Prices of models tested by Consumer Reports ranged from $30 for audio monitors to more than $200 for some with video.

“Overall, baby monitors can be as temperamental as a 2-year-old,” says Consumer Reports. “Interference is probably the biggest complaint, but parents also report such problems as low visibility, a shorter-than-expected reception range, and short battery life.”

Models at the high end of the price scale include the Dropcam Echo audio-video system, for $279. Its manufacturer says the system automatically detects motion and sound, and sends alerts to a parent’s smart phone or iPad.

Experts say baby monitors can provide a useful early warning if something is amiss, but caution that they should never substitute for adult supervision.

Parents are warned not to rely on monitors to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and they should be sure that the monitors’ electrical cords are kept away from cribs. Earlier this year, about 1.7 million Summer Infant video monitors were recalled after being linked to the strangulation deaths of two infants.

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Tracking devices:

Of the roughly 800,000 children reported missing in the U.S. each year, the vast majority are runaways or were abducted by a parent. But there are enough kidnappings by strangers – including a few each year that make national news – to fuel a large, evolving market for products catering to apprehensive parents.

The devices range from clip-on alarms to GPS locators that can be put in a backpack or stuffed in a doll, but they have limited range and can raise safety concerns of their own.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says the devices can be helpful in some circumstances but worries about overreliance on them.

“Some of them encourage parents, perhaps unwittingly, to forget their basic responsibilities,” he said. “There are parents who think they can depend on the technology, not on themselves.”

He recounted the case of one little girl who activated her wristband alarm when she was abducted. The abductor cut off the device, left it behind and later killed the girl.

Allen said the child might have been better off yelling for help, rather than focusing on the alarm.

“Some of the new technology is extraordinary,” Allen said. “But these shouldn’t be used as substitutes for good old-fashioned parenting.”

Generally, the gadgets are in two parts – a main device carried by the parent and a small alarm attached to the child. If a child vanishes, the parent can activate the alarm.

Other gadgets use GPS technology, relying on satellite signals, that allows parents using a Web browser to track the location of an enabled device such as a cell phone.

One company, BrickHouse Security, offers a GPS child locater for $200 that functions as a digital watch and can be locked into the child’s wrist. If forcibly removed, an alert is sent to the parent’s cell phone and email.

Some anxious parents wonder if a satellite-enabled tracking device could be implanted in their child – a technology now expanding in Mexico among people rattled by a kidnapping epidemic there. But Allen says such implantation, for children, could have grim consequences – a child who ran away from home or a noncustodial parent who abducted a child might make a grisly attempt to extract the device.

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Spyware:

For many parents, one of the toughest decisions is whether to spy on a child’s computer and cell phone activity. It’s common for some children to send more than 100 text messages a day, and a recent Associated Press-MTV poll found that about one-quarter of teens had shared sexually explicit photos, videos and chat by cell phone or online.

Walsh, the Minneapolis psychologist, says the best initial step for parents concerned about online risks is a heart-to-heart talk with the child, with monitoring used as a contingency measure only if there’s clear justification.

“If it does make sense to use some spyware, I would never do that in secret way,” said Walsh, whose own three children are now adults. “Tell your children you’ll check on them from time to time. Just that knowledge can be effective.”

Mary Kozakiewicz disagrees, saying deployment of spyware must be kept secret.

“You can’t let them know it’s there, or they’ll do it at a friend’s house,” she said.

Indeed, one of the challenges for some parents is a technology gap – their children may have more savvy about cyberspace and an ability to thwart various spyware tactics.

“Parents are trying to play catch up – and it’s a highly fragmented, confusing sector,” said Keith Jarrett of the AmberWatch Foundation, a nonprofit based in Seal Beach, Calif., dedicated to protecting children against abduction and “the dangers of the digital world.”

AmberWatch promotes various safety devices and technologies, including SafeText – a system enabling parents, for $5 a month, to monitor their children’s text-messaging. The system sends alerts when it detects potentially dangerous or inappropriate text messages, so the parents don’t have to review vast numbers of messages themselves.

Another enterprise, Software4Parents, reviews and sells a range of spyware products. Its Web site features a comment by Mary Kozakiewicz after her abducted daughter was rescued.

“No matter how you feel about your child or how trusting you are that what’s going on is innocent, check it, check it and double check it – or don’t have (the Internet) at all,” Kozakiewicz warns.

Among the site’s featured products are Spector PRO and eBlaster, for sale at $99, and touted as ways way to monitor online chats, instant messages and emails.

“Receive complete transcripts of the web sites they visit, keystrokes they type and more – all delivered right to your email inbox,” the site says.

Several spyware brands, including Mobile Spy and MobiStealth, now offer systems that work with Android, Google’s operating system for mobile phones, ranging in price from $100 to $150 per year.

The software “gives you complete control over your child’s cell phone,” says MobiStealth.

Dr. Henry Gault, who practices child and adolescent psychiatry in Deerfield, Ill., says parents who spy on their children “are walking down a slippery slope” and may end up causing worse problems than the ones that prompted the surveillance.

“That should be the course of last resort,” he said. “Essentially you’re throwing in the towel and saying there’s no trust anymore.”

He suggested it’s normal for children try to keep some secrets from their family.

“Parents shouldn’t feel guilty not knowing 100 percent of what’s going on,” he said. “It’s our job as parents to reduce risk, but you can never reduce the risk to zero.”

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Home drug tests:

Compared to tracking and spyware gadgets, home drug testing kits are relatively low-tech and inexpensive. But they raise tricky issues for parents, who may be torn between alienating their child on the one hand and living with unresolved doubts about possible drug abuse on the other.

David Walsh directed an adolescent treatment program earlier in his career and says the at-home tests can be appropriate when parents have solid reason for suspicion.

“When a son or daughter is getting seriously into drugs, one dynamic of that is denial,” he said. “The stakes are so high. Parents can say, ‘We need to make sure you’re not doing serious damage to yourself. We might occasionally test you.'”

In Colorado Springs, Colo., single mother Amanda Beihl was among the first to carve out a business from Internet sales of test kits, starting in 1999.

Beihl created homedrugtestingkit.com, selling kits to test for illicit drugs and alcohol use. Individual kits testing for a single drug cost as little as $3; a 10-substance kit sells for $19.95.

It’s an ever-evolving field, Beihl says, as teens experiment with new hallucinogens or abuse a range of prescription drugs.

“A lot of parents say they’re afraid of ruining their relationship with their kid – they don’t want to be seen as the bad guy,” Beihl said. “I tell them, if you’re already worried about it, the relationship is probably not that great.”

Kim Hildreth, 52, of Dallas, tested both her daughters during their teens. They’re now in their 20s, and provide occasional assistance as she runs a company, drugtestyourteen.com, that sells testing kits online.

Hildreth has been in the business since 2003 and says she has many repeat customers – parents who used the tests on an older child and now worry about a younger sibling.

In Hildreth’s case, she opted for testing after concluding that her oldest daughter’s best friend was using methamphetamine.

“None of us wants to believe our kids are capable of that,” Hildreth said. “Denial is a much more comfortable place.”

She also later tested her younger daughter, to the point where resentment surfaced, but said both daughters are now staunch proponents of testing.

“We all think we know our kids, but they can change on a dime, and bad things can happen before you even figure it out,” Hildreth said. “They’re good at deceiving parents when they want to – that’s kind of their job.”

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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

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

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Child abduction by parents among Indian diaspora raises concern


Source: Inewsone.com , New Delhi, June 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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