Abduction and the child’s “best interests” – analysis


June 14, 2011 by Rosalind English, UK Human rights Blog

E (Children) FC [2011] UKSC 27 – read judgment see previous post for summary

This case shows some of the difficulties thrown up by the interesting tension between the primacy of children’s interests implied by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the controls on child abduction exerted by the 1980 Hague Convention.

The Human Rights Convention, in requiring that states ensure respect for family life,  protects first and foremost the rights of the child. But of course the Hague Convention has different priorities. The first aim of that instrument is to deter either parent from taking the law into their own hands and removing themselves and their children to another jurisdiction. If abduction does take place, the next object of the Convention is to restore the children as soon as possible to their home country, so that any dispute can be determined there, since the parent left behind is the wronged party, and should not be put to the trouble and expense of coming to the requested state in order to participate in the resolution of factual issues here. Article 12 therefore requires a requested state to return a child forthwith to its country of habitual residence if it has been wrongfully removed in breach of rights of custody. Article 13(b) mitigates that obligation if there is a “grave risk” of “physical or psychological harm.”

So far, so good. But this limitation on the duty to return has to be restrictively applied if the object of the Hague Convention is not to be defeated. In any event, it is rarely appropriate for a court to hear oral evidence  of the allegations made under article 13b and so neither those allegations nor their rebuttal are usually tested in cross-examination.

Children’s interests: where are they on a scale of importance?

To complicate matters further, Article 3(1) of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child also plays a role. This provision also ensures the primacy of the child’s interests:

“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

As Jacqueline Renton points out in her excellent analysis of this case,’ “a” primary consideration’ is not the same thing as ‘“the” primary consideration’ or “the paramount consideration”. Nor does the Children Act 1989 apply to apply in Hague cases so as to make the child’s best interests “the paramount consideration.” But this somewhat begs the question of what all these adjectives mean. If there is a sliding scale of importance involved, then each of these words “paramount”, “the/a primary” etc should be clearly allotted their appropriate level so that practitioners and parties understand their chances in court.However, when the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court attempted to do something like this  in  Neulinger and Shuruk v Switzerland [2011] 1 FLR 122,  it seems to have caused great consternation by concluding that the primacy of the best interests of the child should determine the outcome, even if it went against the aims of Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention.

This consternation is expressed in the first paragraph of the Supreme Court’s judgment in this case, given by Lady Hale and Lord Wilson, and most of the following paragraphs are given over  to diluting the effect of the Grand Chamber’s decision.

Objectives of the Hague Abduction Convention

In considering the primary aims of the Hague Convention, the Supreme Court acknowledges that there was “no doubt” that the paradigm case which the Convention draftsmen had in mind was a dissatisfied parent who did not have the primary care of the child snatching the child away from her primary carer. Nowadays, the Court accepted, things have changed.

 the most common case is a primary carer whose relationship with the other parent has broken down and who leaves with the children, usually to go back to her own family. There are many more international relationships these days than there were even in the 1970s when the Convention was negotiated, so increasingly returning to her own family means crossing an international boundary.

There are other problems with the implementation of the Hague Convention. It is not only “all too common” for courts to recognise that there may be some truth in the claims of domestic abuse and ill-treatment – even violence – by the abducting parent,  but even if they do suspect there are some grounds to these allegations, they grant the return order sought under the Convention without any assurance that undertakings for the safety of the parties returned will be observed. Indeed, as this judgment observes, “the whole concept of undertakings is not generally understood outside the common law world.”

We have posted before on the primacy of children’s interests under other legislation involving cross-border matters (such as section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009).  The Hague Convention contains no express requirement for  the court hearing a case under its provisions to make the best interests of the child its primary consideration. Given that the objective of the Hague Convention is that the child should be present in the jurisdiction where the factual issues as to its upbringing are decided, the dominant theme of the instrument is that the best interests of the child will be served by a prompt return to the country where it is habitually resident.

An anachronism in a changing world?

This flies in the face of all the other areas of judicial endeavour where children are involved; there is nothing in modern life, where mass movements of people, be they refugees, economic migrants, or simply warring families, that dictates that the restoration of a child to “familiar” surroundings is a good thing in its own right. Those familiar surroundings may have involved violence, war, poverty, disease, a whole range of pestilences that drove the child away in the first place; this is why appeals to family rights carry weight in asylum cases. This was the thrust of the AIRE centre’s intervention.  It cannot be logical for one Convention to restrain the government from returning refugees to countries where they face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or the risk of an unfair trial, when another Convention requires that an abducting parent should be returned to face such a risk.

Yes, the Hague Convention may be primarily concerned with routing the factual assessment of the family situation back to the jurisdiction where the deserted parent abides, but in any cases where Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention predominates, a full factual analysis is (or should be) undertaken of the emotional, psychological, material and medical nature of the interests at stake; how then is this analysis to be barged aside when the case also involves an abduction? This is precisely why the Strasbourg Court said, in Neulinger , that Article 8 should be applied to any case being decided under the Hague Convention; it follows that

 a child’s return cannot be ordered automatically or mechanically when the Hague Convention is applicable. The child’s best interests, from a personal development perspective, will depend on a variety of individual circumstances, in particular his age and level of maturity, the presence or absence of his parents and his environment and experiences. . .. For that reason, those best interests must be assessed in each individual case.

In doing so, the Supreme Court complains, the Strasbourg Court

 gives the appearance of turning the swift, summary decisionmaking which is envisaged by the Hague Convention into the full-blown examination of the child’s future in the requested state which it was the very object of the Hague Convention to avoid.

Although it sticks in this blogger’s craw to defend the Strasbourg Court, for once, I think, that Court got it right. It is not, indeed, for the Strasbourg court to decide what the Hague Convention requires. Its role is to decide what the ECHR requires. But where another Convention appears to be undermining the very interests that are so vigilantly protected by the Human Rights Convention, then what is this judicial body to do? It is simply wishful thinking to suggest that Article 8 can never “trump” the Hague Convention; that in some inchoate way “they march hand in hand” (sic). How can they possibly be so compatible when, on the one hand, Article 8 prevents the return of families to destinations where they may not be entitled to  a certain level of healthcare, while, on the other,  the Hague Convention return obligation is only lifted if there is a “grave” risk of  harm? In the Supreme Court’s own words –

“grave” characterises the risk rather than the harm, there is in ordinary language a link between the two. Thus a relatively low risk of death orreally serious injury might properly be qualified as “grave” while a higher level of risk might be required for other less serious forms of harm. [italics mine]

Hmm. Put in context, the children in this case face being returned to a father who, allegedly, laid about them and tormented and killed family pets as a form of intimidation.  Are we seriously being asked to believe, as this judgment suggests we should believe, that this is the sort of “rough and tumble” that every child has to put up with (“it is part of growing up” (para 34)? There were all sorts of undertakings made by the father, to be sure, which led the original trial judge to make the order, but these were undertakings given to the English High Court which cannot be enforced in Norway. Even at the time of this appeal there were no orders yet made in the Norwegian courts. The fact that the Supreme Court had real concerns about the children and mother in this case is betrayed by their request to the Hague Conference to consider putting in place some sort of mechanism to ensure that protective orders and undertakings are enforced in the requesting state.

Let’s have some clarity on where the weight to be given to the child’s best interests in all the areas of legislative endeavour where this is relevant – terrorism, asylum, immigration, family and social welfare law. Without such clarity, it is hard to believe that Article 8 considerations are really being taken into account within the Hague Convention, rather than being paid mere judicial lip service.

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Abducted Children – We can bring them back


Time is a very important factor if a child is missing. Immediate access to current information about the missing child is critical. Although nobody hopes to be in such a situation where this information is needed, parents have to keep in mind that child abduction can occur anytime, anywhere, to any child. Therefore, parents must have the resources and knowledge about their children ready, so they can take action if their children become missing.

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings,
Runaway children and Counselling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult time.
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

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ITALY – Italian Child Abduction Alert System (ICAAS)


Source: formez.eu

The project aims at realizing a “quick alert” system in the case of child abduction.
 
Actions:

  • Definition of the protocol to ensure that once the case of child abduction has been communicated to the police, the alert mechanism is promptly launched through a study of the procedures already in force in other EU countries, the analysis of the resources available to all Bodies involved and the evaluation of their competences.
  • Definition of a central authority at national level with the clear responsibility for directing and coordinating available techniques and human resources.
  • Management of a joint web portal including two main areas: a public area for memorizing the alarm information and an area limited to the bodies responsible for starting up the procedure on transmission via radio (TV / Radio / mobile telephone companies and others).
  • Coordination between all security forces and the competent authorities, the national network of the Public Administration, civil society and NGOs.
  • Judicial and security system which deals with child disappearance.
  • Definition of the Protocol and Bodies involved in the alert procedures.
  • Memoranda with media and Bodies involved in the communication phase.
  • Realization of the portal.
On 8 March 2011 in Rome the ceremony to undersign the Agreement as regards the establishment of an Italian “Child Abduction Alert” system will take place, which shall allow for the utmost diffusion, among the population, of the information useful for localizing abducted children in the very short term.
The event will open with the welcome address by the Vice Director General for Public Security – Central Head of the Criminal Police, Prefect Francesco Cirillo, and will continue with the presentation of the project by the Head of the Service for Police Force International Cooperation, Gen. B. Guardia di Finanza, Francesco Lisi. The event will be closed with a press conference to be held after the undersigning of the Agreement.
The Project funded by the European Commission, has been the result of a profitable partnership between Police Forces, institutions and private bodies, of which the Central Direction of the Italian Criminal Police has been the leading structure.

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Law Firms Sued For Aiding Parental Abduction


Source: Lawdiva`s Blog

Two New Jersey law firms are fighting lawsuits brought by Peter Innes, the father of Victoria Innes who was abducted by her mother Marie Carrascosa and spirited off to Spain in 2005.

Innes and Carrascosa were married in 1999 in Spain but lived in the US. Victoria was born in 2000 and the marriage ended in 2004. Victoria held dual Spanish/American citizenship.

Ms. Carrascosa, a Spanish national and a lawyer in Spain, ignored the parties’ parenting agreement that Victoria remain in the US and brought Victoria to her maternal grandparents in Spain. Ms. Carrascosa later returned to New Jersey. Mr. Innes then obtained a court order from a New Jersey judge who ordered her to return the abducted child to New Jersey. Mr. Innes was also granted custody of Victoria by the US court.

Ms. Carrascosa went into hiding for a time but eventually was tried for contempt of a court order and interfering with custody and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Yes, you read that right! In British Columbia abducting parents get a mild slap on the wrist. I can only remember a small handful of cases where any incarceration was ordered, which can only speak to the degree of seriousness our courts ascribe to this heinous offence.

Meanwhile, back in Spain, the Spanish court awarded Ms. Carrascosa custody of her daughter and refused to order Victoria’s return to America. Judges from Spain and New Jersey met at the Hague Court in Holland to try to resolve this now high-profile international dispute, but to no avail.

So why have the lawyers been sued? Ms. Carrascosa’s first lawyer was ordered by the court to hold Victoria’s passport to impede her ability to travel with her mother. When Ms. Carrascosa discharged her first lawyer, she couriered the passport to the new lawyer, who apparently had no idea that the passport was not to be given to her client.

Mr. Innes determined that when his wife absconded with their daughter, they left using Victoria’s passport.

The lawyers are, of course, blaming each other for the debacle and a trial is scheduled for 2010.

I can understand why Peter Innes is taking these actions against his wife’s lawyers. If Ms. Carrascosa travelled with her daughter’s passport in hand, someone has to be held accountable. In my experience, the only way Mr. Innes will see his child again is if Ms. Carrascosa finds jail unpleasant enough.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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Abducted to Poland


THEIR marriage had become marred by arguments, but when his wife wanted to travel overseas after her grandmother died, Dimitrios Laskos did not object.

Neither did he oppose her taking their 11-month-old son Panagiotis to her native Poland for a few weeks. But when she did not return for his first birthday, Mr Laskos became concerned. Two years later, he is still waiting.

This week, a Polish court is to decide whether Panagiotis, an Australian citizen, should be returned to Sydney.

Since he was taken by his mother, Panagiotis has been renamed Piotr and been baptised a Catholic even though the couple had agreed on a Greek-Orthodox baptism. Mr Laskos has only seen him for a few minutes. ”For Greeks always the first son of the family is very important,” he explains.

Imagine the outrage, says Mr Laskos, if a Greek or Lebanese father abducted his child and changed his name and religion. ”Always the fathers are the victims. They give too much power to the woman in this country. Why don’t they make [it] a crime, this situation?”

Under the Hague Convention on child abduction, which Australia and Poland have signed, the removal of a child is wrong if it breaches custody orders or parenting was exercised jointly. But it is no crime in Australia to remove your child where no orders exist.

When the convention was drawn up in 1980, 70 per cent of child abductions were committed by fathers, said Waldemar Drexler, the lawyer for Mr Laskos’s wife, Malgorzata Muchowska.

Now 87 per cent of abducted children are taken by mothers, says the federal Attorney-General’s Department, which helps parents enforce the convention. A spokesman said there was no plan to make child abduction a crime.

In the first 11 months of this year 88 children were abducted from Australia, and 77 were taken from their usual residence to Australia.

Mr Drexler, who thinks the convention is outdated, says: ”The mothers are taking the children overseas to the country where they lived before. We can’t say the child suffers harm because the child is more in touch with the mother who spends much more time with the child.”

The battle over Panagiotis has been nasty with both sides accusing each other of lying to the Polish court. Mr Laskos says his wife made false accusations that he had mistreated her. He says his only criminal record is for driving matters.

Mr Drexler says Mr Laskos has lied in court about owning a property, and has been forced to admit it belonged to his aunt. ”My client says the child’s father does not have any resources to support the child,” he said. ”It’s not fair for her to take a child from a good environment … the family [in Poland] is well-to-do … then to bring him back to Australia where everything is foreign to him, language, culture, father. He won’t recognise anything.”

But a family centre in Catholic Poland concluded after a psychological assessment: ”A solution favourable for the child would be the mother’s return with him to Australia.”

Mr Laskos says he would financially support his wife and child if they returned. Then they could sort out divorce and custody arrangements ”here in Australia where we started our lives together”.

”Slowly, slowly I want him to get to know me. After six to seven years I will take him full time. He does not know English. He does not know Greek,” Mr Laskos says.

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‘A very disturbing trend’: Parents kidnap their children, flee country


Washington (CNN) — More children are being abducted by a parent who then takes them out of the country, and more needs to be done to bring the children back to their legal homes, the U.S. official who oversees the issue said Wednesday.

The number of such abductions reported is “sharply on the rise — a very disturbing trend,” said Susan Jacobs, the special advisor for children’s issues at the State Department.

Jacobs also said her department is one of the fastest growing offices at the State Department because of the increasing rate of international abductions involving children with American parents.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children said that in 2010 there were nearly 2,000 parental abductions in which the child was taken out of the United States.

“International parental abduction is a federal crime with long-term, damaging consequences for both parents and children, even when the cases are resolved,” Jacobs said. “Parents seeking the return of their children or permission to visit them confront unfamiliar legal, cultural, and linguistic barriers; they suffer emotional trauma, and they face significant and long-term financial costs.”

The United States is encouraging other countries to sign onto The Hague Convention on international child abductions, a treaty signed by more than 60 countries that provides a civil mechanism to return children wrongfully removed from the country where they live.

Jacobs said decisions under the convention are commonly based on where the child usually resides. When properly implemented, “the convention works,” she said.

The issue grabbed headlines a few years ago with the case of Sean Goldman, whose American father, David, was engaged in an international custody battle after the boy’s Brazilian mother refused to let the child return to his father following a vacation in Brazil. The boy was eventually returned to his father after a ruling by the Brazilian supreme court.

Jacobs, incidentally, met with Brazilian authorities last week to discuss ways to speed up the reunification of children with their families. From their discussions, Jacobs said, Brazil and the United States are to hold the first meeting of a children’s working group later this year.

Jacobs and others traveled to the Department of Justice Wednesday afternoon for an observance of National Missing Children’s Day to honor the work of those in law enforcement who recover missing children and combat child exploitation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the issue as well. In videotaped remarks to mark the day, Clinton asked for to people to continue to speak out on the issue to “help children around the world come home.”

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The Hague Convention (On The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction)


Source: www.sfla.co.uk

Introduction

UK residents making over 40 million visits abroad in one year and over 10 million British nationals living overseas, the continuing increase in international child custody disputes is not surprising. Matters of this nature will always be agonisingly difficult for the parents as well as the children involved.

Before the Children’s Act of 1989, few courts have given importance to children having continuous contact with the parent who was forced to leave home due to marital separation. There are instances where a parent had to go to prison for obstructing contact or resorting to parental abduction. The gravity of the negative effect of circumstances such as these on the children and their relationship with the other parent cannot be underestimated.

The residence order replaces the custody order and offers flexibility in accommodating various shared case arrangements. It ensures that both parents know and feel that they have a continuing role to play in the lives of their children despite the separation. A shared residence order is more advantageous to all concerned, as it does not deprive any parent or the children the right to spend time together.

There is no intention to take away parental responsibility from any parent by granting a residence order in favour of the other. In fact, it can be made in favour of more than one person at the same time in spite of them not living together. It can just specify the periods the child will spend on each household concerned.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is a treaty that was concluded with the firm conviction that the children’s interest is of paramount importance in matters affecting their custody. It aims to protect the children internationally from the harmful effects of wrongful removal and retention in any contracting state, ensure their prompt return to the state of habitual residence and to secure protection for rights of access. The Hague Convention seeks to lessen international abductions by judicial remedies.

The Convention is applicable to any child who is a habitual resident in a contracting state immediately before custody or access rights have been breached. It however, ceases to apply when the child reaches the age of 16 years.

Central Authorities

All contracting states shall designate their own Central Authority, which shall cooperate with each other in achieving the objectives of the Convention. They are to take all appropriate actions towards the main aim of ensuring the safe and speedy return of children wrongfully removed or retained. The Central Authority for England and Wales is the Child Abduction Unit.

The United Kingdom is part of two international conventions concerning the return of a child who has been abducted. One is the above mentioned Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the European Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children.

Either one or both conventions are in force between the United Kingdom and the countries of: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso Israel; Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, St. Kitts and Nevis, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America and Zimbabwe.

Child Abduction

It is a criminal offense in England and Wales under the Child Abduction Act of 1984 for a parent or guardian of a child, or any person who has a custody/residence order relating to the child to take or send the child out of the United Kingdom without the consent of any other person or persons having rights to the child. There are several possible scenarios in child abduction.

When your child has been taken to a convention country, you should contact the Child Abduction Unit. The questionnaire that shall be sent to you should be accomplished and sent back with photographs of the missing child and the person who has taken the child. Any relevant information explaining the circumstances would be of great help in locating the child. However, the case must fall within the requirements of the convention.

If your child has been taken to a non-convention country, the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices will be able to advise you on what to do. Establish as soon as possible what your parental rights are and the childcare and control practices prevailing in the country concerned. The Consular Division of the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices can provide a list of local lawyers but can neither give legal advice nor act as legal representative.

If you do not know where your child has been taken, it is best to alert the local police station so a Port Alert can be initiated to circulate your child’s name to all UK points of departure. After which, you should also contact the Lord Chancellor’s Department Child Abduction Unit. If your child has been abducted but is still within the United Kingdom, you should know that court orders made in one part of UK is recognised and enforced in all parts.

Being Ready

If you feel that the threat of removal is real and imminent, you must keep the following information ready:

    • the child’s full name, place and date of birth, passport number, date and place of issue and physical description
    • the full name, aliases, place and date of birth, passport details, occupation, departure details and ties to foreign countries of the person who has taken the child
  • the copies of all pertinent documents such as agreements and court orders, child’s birth certificate, photographs of the child and the person who has taken the child.

Always in circumstances like these, one or both parents involved in the dispute actually believe they have more right than the other over the child. But almost always, it is the children who suffer, while the two persons who supposedly care so much for them eventually end up hurting them instead.

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It Shouldn`t Hurt To Be A Child


Source: Victims Of Violence 

INTRODUCTION

It is estimated that a child goes missing every 9 minutes in Canada. When we think of child abduction, we often picture a stranger snatching our child as they walk home from school. However, the majority of child abductions are committed by someone the child knows and, in many cases, the abductor is a parent. There were 237 parental abductions in 2009, compared to 50 stranger abductions. Parental Abduction is defined as, “the wilful taking of a child with the intent of depriving the other parent, guardian or any other person having lawful care and charge of that child of the possession of that child.”(RCMP). This may at first seem like a benign form of abduction, but it is important to realize that parental abduction is a crime and can have a serious impact on the left-behind parent, the family, and the abducted child.

MOTIVES FOR PARENTAL ABDUCTION

Parents may abduct their children for several different reasons. A common motive is for revenge and as a power play. These parents believe that they have not been treated fairly in a custody battle and may feel misrepresented in court. They will take their child both to hurt the other parent, and simply to assert that they are capable of doing so. Some parents abduct their child out of fear for the child’s safety. This is common in cases where a spouse, usually the wife, is abused by her partner. She will usually take her child to protect him or her from abuse. Shares custody parents may fear that their child is subject to neglect and endangerment when with the other parent.

PROFILE OF ABDUCTORS

There are a number of factors that may contribute to parental abduction including; socioeconomic status, psychological and sociological issues, the relationship between the parent and the child, and the child’s age. The following is a list of characteristics that theRCMP have complied in an attempt to create a general overview of the common parent abductor:

  • Both mother and father are equally likely to abduct their child. Mothers tend to do so after a court order while fathers tend to abduct the child before the court order is made.
  • Mothers tend to keep their abducted child longer than fathers. But most parental abductions are short and are resolved in about 7 days.
  • Parent abductors tend to be between the ages of 28 and 40.
  • Although socio-economic factors vary from case to case, fathers tend to be employed and mothers tend not to be.
  • Most abducted children are young, between the ages of 3 and 7. Children who are taken out of the country are usually older, over 8 years of age.
  • Male and female children are equally likely to be abducted.
  • Children are usually abducted from the home, and abductions usually take place during weekends or holidays (summer, Christmas break, March break.).
  • Various modes of transportation are used and accomplices (commonly other family members or a current partner) are used in about 50% of the cases.
  • Physical or sexual abuse is not common and only occurs in a very small percentage of these abductions.
  • Most ‘left-behind’ parents report the abduction immediately; however some will delay reporting the incident.

Although each case has different circumstances, this general profile provides police with information that will help them to locate and recover the missing child.

ABDUCTION LAWS

Parental Abduction is a criminal offence, and can be found under section 283(1) in the Criminal Code which states:

Everyone who, being the parent, guardian or person having the lawful care or charge of a person under the age of fourteen years, takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person, whether or not there is a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of the possession of that person, is guilty of

  1. an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
  2. an offence punishable on summary conviction.

There are two exceptions to this section:

  1. No one can be found guilty of the abduction offence (under sections 281 to 283) if they are able to establish that there was consent by the parent, guardian or other person having lawful possession, care or charge of that young person.
  2. No one can be found guilty of an offence under sections 280 to 283 if the court is satisfied that the abduction of the young person was “… necessary to protect the young person from danger of imminent harm or if the person charged with the offence was escaping from danger of imminent harm.”

Importantly, a parent who abducts their child cannot make a defence by claiming that the child consented to or suggested the abduction.

Section 282(2) pertains to abduction in contravention of the custody provisions set out in a custody order and is essentially the same as what has been set out in section 283(1). However, if an individual is not proven guilty under Section 282, they can still be found guilty under Section 283(1).

INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTIONS

International child abductions involve either a parent abducting their child and taking them out of the country, or a parent in another country who prevents the child from returning home to the other parent. Revenge is often a strong motive behind this type of abduction, and the abducting parent will often try to turn the child against the other parent by convincing him/her that the other parent does not care for or love them. If you are worried that your child’s other parent may take him/her out of the country, you may notify a local passport office to have your child’s name placed on the passport control list which will put officials on alert (you need to provide certain documentation to do this). If your child is a dual-citizen, however, this may not be sufficient. The media can have either a mixed influence in abduction cases. Media attention may assist in fuelling the international search for a missing child, or it may cause the abducting parent to go into hiding.

THE HAGUE CONVENTION

Over 30 years ago, the international community recognized the need for a program to ensure cooperation between countries as a way to resolve and prevent international parental abduction cases. Canada was the second country to ratify this Convention which came into effect on December 1, 1983. The Hague convention has two objectives. The first is to ensure the prompt return of an abducted child to his/her home country and the second objective is to ensure that the rights of custody/ access to the child under the law of one contracting state are respected in the other contracting states.

The Hague convention may be applicable if:

  1. The child was a of resident to Canada immediately before the abduction
  2. The wrongful abduction was in breach of rights of custody/access to the child
  3. At the time of the abduction, the convention applied between Canada and the country to which the abducted child was taken.
  4. The child is under 16 years of age.

If the convention applies to the country (or area of the country) to which a child has been taken, authorities can provide a parent with the appropriate paperwork. The Canadian central authority will forward the documents to the foreign central authority that will then pass them along to the local judicial authority. If the child will not be returned voluntarily, a court hearing may take place. If all conditions are met and no exceptions apply, the foreign court will order the return of the child.

There are some exceptions to the Hague convention:

  • The accused parent is able to prove that the other parent consented to the child’s removal/ later acquiesced to it or was not exercising custody rights when the child was abducted/ retained.
  • The child may be at risk of physical or psychological harm or be placed in an intolerable situation if returned.
  • The child objects to being returned and is old enough and mature enough to have his/her opinion taken into account.

There are no costs associated with The Hague Convention application process; however there may be costs associated with the legal proceedings and travel costs.

There are currently 80 countries who have signed the Hague convention: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China (Hong Kong), China (Macao), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, FYR of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Note: In some countries, the Hague Convention pertains to only certain provinces, states, or territories of the country.

EFFECTS ON THE VICTIMS

The Left-Behind Family

The first thing that the left-behind family experiences is shock and disbelief. They cannot believe that their loved one has been taken away by a fellow family member. Panic as to the whereabouts of the child and how to get proper assistance will cause both the left-behind parent and any left-behind siblings to experience serious emotional distress.

The left-behind parent often has an incredibly difficult time maintaining work commitments while searching for their child. Feelings of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, despair, loneliness, and guilt are common emotions. Most left-behind parents also suffer from disturbances in sleep patterns, loss of appetite, and severe depression. The emotional turmoil might also manifest in physical symptoms such as re-occurring headaches and nausea. And in some situations, the parent may turn to drugs or alcohol to handle the pain.

Any left-behind siblings also experience the pain of the loss of their brother/sister. Like the left-behind parents, the siblings also experience a variety of emotions and physical ailments. Since their parent is so focused on the return of the kidnapped child, the other children may feel neglected and develop hostile feelings towards the kidnapped child for taking all of the attention.

The Abducted Child

Despite the fact that the abducted child is with their parent or guardian, the experience can be terrifying and cause long-term damage. Often these children will live the life of a fugitive; dragged around by their parent from place to place in an effort to avoid authorities. The distress of suddenly losing friends and family and having to deal with constantly changing environments is an incredibly stressful experience. Even when the child is safely returned he/she will still be affected by the experience. A fear of abandonment and loss of trust are common issues for children who have been kidnapped by a parent. They may also suffer from depression, loneliness, excessive fearfulness, helplessness and anger. There are a number of mental disorders that are commonly associated with parental child abductions such as separation anxiety disorder, ADHDPTSD, eating disorders, learning disabilities and conduct disorder. As the experience of abduction can have such a traumatic effect on the child, it is important that the parent or guardian get the child proper help as soon as he or she is returned.

HELPFUL TIPS

One of the most important things a parent can do to help avoid parental abduction is to remain on good terms with the other parent and try to remain on good terms with the child’s other grandparents. If you expect that your child is at risk of abduction, make sure to talk to him or her. Explain how the custody situation works, teach them how to use the phone (especially 911 and long distance), make sure that your children know that you love them, and listen to them – information they provide may be your first clue. Keep track of what they wear on a daily basis. Keep records of all important information and store it in a safe place that is unknown or inaccessible to the other parent. As indicated earlier, it is also possible to add your child to the passport control list.

If your child is abducted by the other parent, get in touch with local authorities immediately. Provide them with any information you have and limit access to your home until law enforcement has collected any possible evidence. Contact the birth certificate office to block any application for a birth certificate by the abducting parent (you will need specific documentation to do this). Contact any search organizations such as Child Find and register your child as missing. If you plan to go to the media, ask the police for help and advice on the best way to do so. Most importantly, take care of yourself and your family, you need to be strong for your child and any other children left behind.

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Japan close to joining Hague Convention


Source: Dadsdivorce.com

Japan close to joining Hague Convention to address parental kidnappings

Because of the difference between Japanese and American laws regarding custody and kidnapping, Japan has become a safe refuge for parents who abduct their own children and want to keep them away from their American fathers.

That may no longer be the case, though, as Japan has endorsed plans to bring itself in line with the international child custody convention commonly referred to as the Hague Convention, according to an Associated Press report.

The Hague Convention is a treaty between roughly 80 countries that agree to cooperate and abide by one set of laws for the return of children removed from their home country over custody disputes. (For more information, read the article “Hague Convention – International Child Abduction Help.”)

International kidnapping of children of divorce is exacerbated when the kidnapping parent retreats to countries such as Japan, who have not signed the Hague Convention.

Japan has been seen as a safe harbor for kidnapper parents, though increased attention and foreign pressure was put on the country following the 2009 case of Christopher Savoie.

Savoie was imprisoned in Japan for trying to rescue his kidnapped children after his ex-wife broke Tennessee state law by illegally removing the children from the United States. (Watch our interview with Savoie’s lawyer shortly after his client was arrested.)

Current Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody of children in divorce cases — nearly always the mother, according to the AP story. That has kept foreign, and even Japanese fathers, from having access to their children.

The AP said the new law would allow foreign parents more access to their children. While it is expected that the Cabinet will approve the change in custody laws, the proposal must also by approved by parliament, according to the AP story.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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International child abductions up sharply: US official


25 MAY 2011, France24

AFP – International child abductions are “sharply on the rise,” the US State Department’s official in charge of children’s issues said Wednesday as Americans marked Missing Children’s Day.

Family members abduct more than 200,000 children every year in the United States, and last year nearly 2,000 children were kidnapped by one of their parents and illegally brought into or taken out of the United States, Susan Jacobs, the State Department special adviser on children’s issues said.

In US fiscal year 2006, 642 children were abducted from the United States by one of their parents, a report released two years ago by the State Department found.

That rose to 794 children for the same 12 months in 2007 and to 1,082 in 2008, according to the report.

In 2008, 484 children were abducted to the United States, and only 361 children who were illegally taken out of the United States by a parent were returned, the report said.

The rise in international child abductions by parents was “a disturbing trend,” Jacobs said.

Children who are kidnapped and taken out of their country of usual residence are “at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems,” while left-behind parents have to deal with numerous obstacles as they battle to get their children back or even just for the right to see them again, she said.

“They confront unfamiliar legal, cultural and linguistic barriers, suffer emotional trauma and face significant and long-term financial costs,” said Jacobs, who was appointed last year to head the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI).

The OCI is the central authority in the United States for the 1980 Hague Convention, an international agreement that requires kidnapped children to be returned promptly to their country of habitual residence.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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