Abducted and taken to Pakistan, UK girl to return home after 3 years


December 29, 2012

Source: Tribune.com.pk

A six-year-old girl, who was abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan three years ago, is expected to reunite with her mother today the Daily Mail reported.

Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson, who went missing in 2009 after she went to stay with her father, Razwan Ali Anjum, is expected to reach Manchester Airport around 5pm today to meet her mother.

Atiya_Anjum_Wilkinson

He took her to Lahore and told her mother that she would never see her daughter again.

Gemma Wilkinson, her mother, has been distraught ever since.

‘I pray she’s okay but we don’t have any proof that she’s okay and no proof she is even still alive,’ Gemma had said. ‘It’s been discussed that she could have been sold, but I don’t want to believe it. As far as I’m aware she hasn’t been with any family member so I can only assume she’s with strangers.’

‘To know that she’s safe, to know that she’s being looked after, to know where she is. A child doesn’t disappear, doesn’t evaporate. A child is put somewhere and people know – and that information needs to be talked about,’ added the mother.

Atiya was reportedly taken into protective custody after she was found in Pakistan this week and her father is in prison in the UK for not revealing her whereabouts.

Gemma separated from Anjum in 2008 due to his possessive and controlling nature, after which he vowed revenge and on her birthday, took her away saying he was taking her to Southport.

He claimed that she was with relatives there and returned to the UK without her, after which he said a man called ‘Khan’ had taken her to Iran. Atiya, however, was traced after police published a computer generated image of how she would look three years from when she was abducted.

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Parental abduction of children to Russia


Source: Jewish Tribune

On Thursday, 28 July 2011, the Russian Federation deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Convention will enter into force for the Russian Federation on 1 October 2011.  This means that for the first time ever, if a parent abducts her child to Russia, the parent left behind may be able to successfully apply to a Russian court to have the child returned and do so on a reasonably expedited basis.

Up until now, no Russian court would do so since under Russian law, even a child born in Canada to a Russian parent was deemed to be ‘Russian’ no matter how old that child may be.  In many cases, abducted children would be snatched from their Canadian homes, their schools, friends, relatives and the parent left behind in Ontario. The typical scenario occurs during a planned vacation when a Russian born mother announces she is leaving for a brief vacation with a child to visit her family in  Moscow or St. Petersburg.  Once there the mother (or father) announces that she (or he)  is not returning.  Moreover, she immediately obtains a court order from a Russian court for custody. A Canadian lawyer might then obtain a Canadian court order for custody in Canada and an Order for the return of the child, contact the RCMP and even retain a lawyer in the Russian Federation.  However, in the past, obtaining such a court Order in Ontario was useless as it would not be enforced by any Russian domestic court since the child would be considered Russian, no matter how many years he or she lived in Canada, and even if the child was born in Toronto.  It was only useful in the event the child ever left Russia since it could be enforced by the international police, INTERPOL.

If a parental abduction now takes place the parent in Canada should retain a competent Family Law lawyer in Ontario.  He or she would then call the Ontario Government at (416) 240-2484 to enforce the Hague Convention Treaty for the international abduction of children   The Ontario Government would contact the Russian Government which would notify the appropriate court in Russia.  The lawyer in Ontario would retain a lawyer in Russia to make the court application to return the children in accordance with the Hague Convention and help draft the court documents.   A parent “left behind” normally only has one year from the date of the abduction to file an application for the return of a child, but there are exceptions to the rule. There are also “defenses” to such an application.  For instance, if the child is old enough and insists that he or she does not wish to return to Canada or if the parent who left with the child  can prove that there was violence, the foreign Courts may possibly not enforce the Hague Convention. But these are defenses that do not normally succeed because in international family law such issues should be decided where the child normally resides.

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Child Abduction to Thailand


Phuket Boy Ricardo Among Rising Number of Abductions

By Chutima Sidasathian,Phuketwan Friday, July 1, 2011

PHUKET: Figures show the number of British children abducted by a parent and taken abroad is increasing, with Thailand a favored destination. Pakistan and India rank first and third in numerical terms, sandwiching Thailand. The Foreign Office said that 161 children had been taken over the past 12 months to countries that are outside an international treaty designed to ensure the return of wrongfully removed minors.

On Phuket, parental abduction is known to be an issue. The most prominent case has been the twice-abducted Ricardo Choosaneh, a nine-year-old first taken by his Thai mother from his father in the Netherlands, then taken from Phuket by his foster mother earlier this year. His mother, Sumetra Choosaneh, told Phuketwan in an interview in Bangkok in March that she planned to go to Europe to regain her boy – but through the courts this time.

Khun Sumetra and her family say that the father has never been a good provider and continues to use possession of the boy as a means to extract money from others and to gain government housing in the Netherlands. Britain’s Foreign Office admitted that true figures on abductions are likely to be much higher because many cases go unreported. AFP reported that although Pakistan, Thailand and India topped the list of nations involved, there were cases in another 94 countries that are outside the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne told the news agency: ”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 Phuket case of young Ricardo has brought international attention, with a television show in the Netherlands encouraging support from viewers for the boy’s father, Michael Roland van Alphen. However, Khun Sumetra and her family maintain that Phuket-born Ricardo, abducted twice in the space of nine months, should never have been snatched on the second occasion by foster mother Kimberley Ching-Yong because the boy’s future is brighter on Phuket.

Only a court, having listened carefully to both sides, can settle the matter with the best interests of the child to the fore. As Sharon Cooke, advice line manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, told AFP: ”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.”

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Custody Laws – Violating the Custody Order Through Parental Kidnapping


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Help us bring our children home


Source: The Courier-Mail, June 14, 2011

RAISING AWARENESS: Ken Thompson cycled 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son. Picture: AP Source: AP

HUNDREDS of desperate mums and dads are fighting to have their kids returned to Australia amid the “silent epidemic” of international parental abduction. Three children are taken from our shores each week and the parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

International help is available under the Hague Convention for the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, the process can be largely fruitless if the fleeing parent takes the child to an unco-operative country such as Brazil or Chile, or a country not yet party to the treaty such as Japan. Last year, 125 children were wrongfully removed from Australia to another Hague Convention country, with 74 returned. Another 29 were abducted to non-convention countries. These are the cases authorities know of, with family dispute experts saying the true number could be double official figures.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland told The Courier-Mail parental child abductions were “not uncommon”. “I think each and every MP who’s been here for a while would have seen an example in their electorate,” he said. The scale of the issue has been widely reflected in social media, with hundreds of Facebook pages and social networking campaigns dedicated to finding parentally abducted children.

The Courier-Mail has spoken to five parents – including four Queenslanders – who are fighting for their kids’ return. A Townsville-born dad, who lives in the US, has vowed to get his two-year-old son back from Brazil or “die trying” after his wife of seven years took their boy to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week holiday and never returned.

“Child abduction for the left-behind parent is like waterboarding,” he said. “The frustration, the worry, the missing each day of his life is all-consuming.” In separate cases spanning seven years, four fathers said their former Japanese spouses had abducted their kids after the Family Court granted the mothers permission to take the children to Japan for a holiday. George, from the Gold Coast, said he lived solely to see his two sons again after they were abducted to Japan in 2004. “To be honest, I even got so depressed for two years, I nearly killed myself,” he said. “The only thing (left-behind parents) can do is support each other.

No one’s helping us.” Daniel, from Sydney, said his former wife abducted their two-year-old son to Japan last year, after they separated, because she disagreed with Australian custody laws. “That was not how she wanted to live her life. It just didn’t fit into her plans,” he said. International Social Service Australia national services manager Helen Freris said the ratio of mums and dads abducting children was roughly equal. “The two main reasons given are a belief it’s the only way to protect a child and the other overarching category involves revenge towards the other parent,” she said.

Whatever the motive, child abduction had long-term psychological impacts on the child and left-behind parent. “It can impact the child’s sense of safety, security and stability in their living arrangements,” Ms Freris said. “There are also the economic implications … initiating legal proceedings in the country where the child has been taken can be costly,” she said. Former NSW deputy fire chief Ken Thompson said he had experienced shock, disbelief, anxiety, depression and uncertainty when his six-year-old son Andrew was abducted in 2008.

The Sydney father – who raised awareness of the issue by cycling 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son – said parental abduction was “incredibly cruel” to children, as well as left-behind parents. “It’s recognised as one of the most extreme forms of child abuse because you’ve taken that child away from everything … and in a lot of cases they lose contact with both sides (of the family) because the parent’s in hiding,” he said. “The number of people who are damaged by this phenomenon is just extraordinary. “It’s not just the left-behind parent. “It’s the other family members, friends, colleagues. “Not knowing where your child is has got to be the worst thing you can possibly experience.” To other left-behind parents, Mr Thompson said: “You’ve just got to keep focused on finding the child and working through whatever legal processes are available to have the child returned. “You’ve also got to raise public awareness to the plight of the child.”

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Father fights for daughter in parental kidnapping case


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Parents sick of waiting for ‘child abduction’ action


Source: The Courier-Mail June 13, 2011

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

 

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and . . . is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments . . . including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to . . . include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list. “The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.”

Families torn apart: Meet the parents fighting to see their kids again, only in The Courier-Mail tomorrow  

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Australia: Push to curb abductions by parents


Source: The Courier-Mail  June 13, 2011

UNDER CONSIDERATION: Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the Government is considering increasing penalties for parents who keep their children overseas for longer than an agreed period.

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.

Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and … is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments … including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to … include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list …

“The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.

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