UAE and Egypt rank high in UK parental child-abduction list


Source: Dubib.com

The UAE is one of the top locations for abductions of British children by one of their estranged parents, according to information released by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Arabian Business has learnt.


Countries that have not signed up to the 1980 Hague Convention, which includes those in the Middle East, are not compelled to abide by UK court orders to return a child abducted from the UK by either of its parents, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

While a spokesperson from the FCO would not give a breakdown of the data by country, he did admit the UAE ranked high among the 97 countries included in the rankings and it was the highest in the GCC.

“In 2010/11 we saw the highest numbers of new child abductions cases to non-Hague Convention countries in Pakistan, Thailand, India, China, Algeria, Malaysia, Egypt, UAE, Ghana and Iran,” a FCO spokesperson old Arabian Business.


In the last year, data from the FCO said a total of 161 British children were taken by one of their parents and abducted abroad. This is a ten percent rise on previous years and has led to the launch of a campaign by the FCO to combat the issue.

“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,” said FCO Minister Jeremy Browne.

Sharon Cooke, advice line manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre in the UK, 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… 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,” Cooke added.

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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.

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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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When the Hague Convention Won’t Help


By Jeremy D. Morley

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention) provides that a child who is habitually resident in one party country, and has been removed to or retained in another party country in violation of the left-behind parent’s custodial rights, should be promptly returned to the country of habitual residence. However, many countries are not parties to the Convention, and even some that are parties enforce the laws only sporadically or in accordance with their own societal customs. Thus, the attorney must take special care when faced with the possibility that his client’s foreign national spouse might take the children to such a country.

divorce

Preventing Abductions to Non-Hague Countries

The first 4 months are  the golden window, were you have the chance to get your children back due to the Hague convention.

The mother in Ahmad v Naviwala,  learned these lessons the hard way. The Family Court awarded her sole custody of the children but unfortunately (although represented by counsel!) she permitted the father to take them to Saudi Arabia for a 3-month visitation. Not surprisingly (to a jaundiced international family lawyer), the father refused to return the children from Saudi Arabia, refused to allow the mother to see the children and obtained an ex parte custody order in his favor from a Saudi court. Had he kept the children in Saudi Arabia, they would doubtless have never been reunited with their mother. Fortunately, he took the children on a trip to Texas, where they were seized pursuant to a Broome County Family Court order, and returned to New York.

The Family Court then granted custody to the father (!), with visitation rights to the mother. Recognizing that Saudi Arabia was not a party to the Hague Convention, and that the mother could not enforce her visitation rights there, the court imposed various conditions upon the father intended to ensure that he would allow the mother to visit the children in Saudi Arabia. For violating the prior custody order, the father was sentenced to a suspended term of incarceration conditioned upon his future compliance.

On appeal, the Third Department awarded custody to the mother, stressing the fact that the father had intended to permanently remove the mother from the children’s lives. The Appellate Division found that the Family Court’s efforts to ensure the mother’s access to the children in Saudi Arabia were entirely insufficient, and allowed visitation by the father only in the United States, with the mother having sole custody of the children’s passports. A successful outcome for the mother was obtained only because the father had brought the children to Texas. This case highlights the fact that, all too often, the courts are reluctant to impose strict conditions to prevent parental child abduction until after an abduction has actually taken place.

United States v. Amer

In United States v. Amer, Egyptian parents were living separately in New York without a custody order. The father abducted the children to Egypt. The mother’s efforts to secure their return failed and the father procured an order from an Egyptian court granting him sole custody. He returned to the United States without the children and was arrested for international parental kidnapping. He was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment and a 1-year term of supervised release, with the special condition that he return the children to the United States. The Second Circuit upheld the requirement that the children be returned, since it was closely tailored to the crime and it served to deter others from wrongfully taking their children overseas.

While Muslim countries are generally not parties to the Hague Conven-tion (Turkey being an exception, although it does not fully comply with its treaty obligations), the problem extends also to many other countries. For example, those Asian countries with Confucian-based state family registration systems, such as China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, are not parties to the Hague Convention (except for Hong Kong and Macau), and provide minimal assistance for the return of parentally abducted children.

Japan is a renowned haven for child abduction, particularly if the abducting parent is a Japanese national. See http://www.international-divorce.com/ca-japan.htm. In any custody battle involving a Japanese national, it would be foolhardy not to draft a custody order that precludes visits to Japan considering the possibility that that parent might take the child permanently to Japan. The courts in Japan will not enforce foreign custody orders and will not take any effective steps to return abducted children. See “Japanese Family Law — or The Lack Thereof!,” by Jeremy D. Morley, http://www.international-divorce.com/d-japan.htm. A foreign parent in a Japanese court will have minimal chance of securing anything more than extremely occasional visitation with his or her child in Japan if the other parent is Japanese. (Thus, in a case on which the author is currently working, the American father who lives in Japan has been allowed to see his child only once in 6 months, for only 2 hours, in court and with supervision).

Accordingly, if a Japanese parent threatens to take a child to Japan, or wishes to take a child for a temporary visit there during a time of marital strife, it is highly advisable to seek a court order barring any such visit. While a U.S. court will doubtless be skeptical when faced with such a motion, it is extremely important to educate the court as to the law, procedure, customs and traditions of Japan, all of which support a Japanese parent’s desire to raise a child in Japan to the total exclusion of the other (foreign) parent. Similar admonitions apply with respect to other countries that are not party to the Hague Convention.

Parents who oppose prohibiting the removal of children for temporary overseas visits often assert that such orders are unnecessary, because wrongfully retaining a child in a foreign country is a felony. The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA), 18 U.S.C. 1204, makes it a federal offense to remove a child from the United States or to retain a child (who has been in the United States) outside the United States with intent to obstruct the exercise of parental rights (custody or visitation). Unfortunately, this law often makes a bad situation worse, since parents who have wrongfully retained children overseas fear that they will be arrested if they return to this country (as happened in U.S. v. Amer, supra). In addition, foreign countries rarely permit extradition for international parental kidnapping, and those countries that are the most likely to do so are countries that are already parties to the Hague Convention.

flag04

Preventing Abductions to Non-Compliant Hague Countries

Merely because a country is a party to the Hague Convention does not mean that it will effectively enforce its treaty obligations. For example, the U.S. State Department has asserted that Mexico is “non-compliant” with the terms of the Convention. U.S State Department Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 2004. Mexico’s noncompliance results from the following problems:

  • Mexico has not enacted any legislation to implement the Hague Convention, which has not been integrated into the Mexican legal system.
  • The Mexican Central Authority has no law enforcement powers and Mexican law enforcement agencies make no serious efforts to locate parentally abducted children.
  • The burden of finding an abducted child in Mexico is left entirely to the left-behind parent. Mexican authorities provide no effective help and if the child cannot be located, nothing happens.
  • There is an apparent lack of understanding of the Convention among the judiciary in Mexico.
  • The Mexican Central Authority does not have adequate resources to perform its functions under the Convention.
  • The “amparo” (a special appeal in Mexico claiming a violation of constitutional rights) is used by taking parents to block Hague proceedings indefinitely.
  • Mexican courts are able to reconsider the facts of a Hague at any stage of the proceeding, which allows proceedings to be prolonged substantially.

Accordingly, custody orders concerning parents with strong ties to Mexico must be drafted so as to minimize the risk that the child will be taken to that country. It would be reckless to permit a Mexican parent who has expressed a desire to move to Mexico, and who has strong family or business ties to Mexico, to take a child into that country for a visit, regardless of the conditions that may be imposed to encourage the parent to bring the child back to this country.

The State Department’s 2004 report establishes that similar concerns exist with respect to Austria, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mauritius, Turkey and Romania and, to a somewhat lesser extent, several other countries.

Conclusion

When courts receive applications to prevent children’s temporary visits to their parents’ country of origin, they are tempted to rely on the need to respect other countries’ legal systems and on international comity to preclude them from deciding that the foreign country may not provide sufficient guarantees that the child will be returned. However, if counsel marshal extensive evidence to support the fact that a foreign country will not respect or effectively enforce an American custody order, the courts should be prepared to reach the necessary conclusion and issue an effective remedy. It is far better to prevent children being taken to such countries that do not fully respect their international treaty obligations than to attempt to procure their recovery after the fact.


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