Child at centre of parental abduction case back in Canada


source: Calgary Herald

The eight-year-old boy at the centre of an international parental abduction case is back in Calgary, but the legal case over his custody is far from over.

The lawyer representing Layale Khalifeh confirmed Friday that she recently returned to Canada with her son, Jad El-Husseini, who had been in Lebanon with his father for a year.map

But the circumstances surrounding Jad’s return to the country remain unclear. The boy’s father, Mohamad El-Husseini — who is wanted by authorities in Canada for allegedly abducting Jad in contravention of a custody order — is claiming Khalifeh violated a Lebanese court order by bringing him back to Canada.

The two sides will be in a Calgary courtroom next week, when Khalifeh’s lawyer, Andy Hayher, is seeking to restore full custody and care of Jad to his client.

“We’re going to work through the courts to try to get some normalcy back in (Jad’s) life,” Hayher said.

Hayher declined to comment on the specifics of Khalifeh’s journey back to Canada with Jad, but he refuted the accusation she abducted him in the process.

“To me, that makes no sense, because Jad is a Canadian citizen,” he said.

Khalifeh and El-Husseini married in Lebanon in 2005, separated in 2011 and divorced in Calgary in March 2014. Last July, Khalifeh agreed to let El-Husseini travel with Jad to Toronto, then Lebanon, for a vacation and to visit relatives.pic

Khalifeh signed a legal consent letter that specified El-Husseini and their son would return to Calgary on Sept. 1, but they never arrived. When Khalifeh went looking for El-Husseini, she found his house vacant, a second property had been sold and that he had cancelled his return tickets to Canada.

Khalifeh went to police, who charged El-Husseini with parental abduction and issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest. Khalifeh also obtained an order in Court of Queen’s Bench granting her sole custody of Jad.

However, the arrest warrant — which remains in effect — and the Calgary court order don’t have any authority in Lebanon, which never signed an international treaty governing parental abductions, known as The Hague Convention.

Khalifeh went to Lebanon last September to find her ex-husband and Jad. She hired a lawyer who practises Islamic sharia law, which in Lebanon governs family legal matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody.

map_of_lebanon

After finding El-Husseini, Khalifeh was able to petition a Lebanese court for access to Jad. However, Hayher said Khalifeh had to agree to quash the Canadian order granting her sole custody before the Lebanese court would allow her to spend time with her son. Hayher alleged she made the decision under duress.

“She was compelled to agree to a number of things she normally wouldn’t have agreed to,” he said.

In an affidavit filed in support of her bid to have custody restored, Khalifeh accused El-Husseini of abuse and trying to indoctrinate their son with anti-western views.

“I found (Jad) to be markedly different in Lebanon. He was much angrier and violent. I believe this was due to some of the fanatical and extremist ideology that the plaintiff was imparting on my son,” Khalifeh stated in her affidavit.

“My son would tell me that the plaintiff would routinely tell him how terrible Israel was and that Canada was like Israel.”

El-Husseini’s lawyer in Calgary, Max Blitt, denied the abuse allegations in Khalifeh’s affidavit and said his client never tried to force extremist ideologies on Jad.

“He practises his faith, as his mother’s family practises their faith,” Blitt said.

Blitt said his client opposes Khalifeh’s custody claim and he alleged she breached the Lebanese court’s order by bringing him back to Calgary.

“In violation of the Lebanese agreement, she took him back to Canada,” said Blitt.

“There’s a double abduction (allegation). How the courts deal with that is going to be very interesting.”

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Calgary mom alleges ex-husband abducted son, 7, to live in Lebanon


September 12 , 2014

Source: CalgaryHerald 

Layale Khalifeh and her seven-year-old son Jad have a bedtime routine when they’re apart: they look at the moon and imagine the other is doing the same.

Layale Khalifeh

It was a ritual they practised during regular phone calls last month while Jad was in Lebanon with Khalifeh’s ex-husband, Mohamad El-Husseini.

But at the end of August, the phone calls stopped — and El-Husseini hasn’t come back with their son.

Khalifeh now believes her ex-husband has abducted Jad, and has turned to authorities to compel his return.

Amid her frantic efforts to find her son, Khalifeh said she draws some solace in the belief that Jad is thinking of her when he peers up at the moon.

“I know wherever he is, he’s still doing that,” she said Thursday.

Parental abduction cases involving Lebanon can be notoriously difficult to resolve, but Khalifeh said she won’t rest until Jad is back in Calgary.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring my son back,” she said.

El-Husseini had taken Jad to Lebanon and returned him without incident since the couple’s separation in 2011 — but what Khalifeh has uncovered in the past 10 days has the look of alleged plan to permanently leave Canada with the boy.

Khalifeh, 33, agreed to let El-Husseini travel with Jad to Toronto, then Lebanon, at the end of July for what he said was a family wedding.

Khalifeh signed a legal consent letter, which specified El-Husseini and their son would return to Calgary on Sept. 1.

The first sign something was amiss was Aug. 26, when Khalifeh phoned El-Husseini to speak with Jad — something she did every few days — and the call cut out.

“Since then, I have continued to attempt to contact him, but have not been able to reach him or our son,” she stated in her affidavit, filed in Court of Queen’s Bench last week.

The allegations in Khalifeh’s affidavit haven’t been proven, but were enough to obtain a court order granting her sole custody of Jad and compelling his return to Canada.

Khalifeh stated in the affidavit she went to El-Husseini’s house on Sept. 1 and no one was there — what’s more, the house appeared vacant.

She also found out another property of El-Husseini’s in Calgary was sold in June.

When Khalifeh called British Airways to see if the airline had any information about her ex-husband and son’s travel plans, she learned El-Husseini cancelled their return tickets last month.

That’s when Khalifeh went to Calgary police.

At the same time, Khalifeh’s parents, who live in Lebanon, contacted El-Husseini’s family in that country and found more disturbing news: the relatives said he quit his job in Calgary.

“(El-Husseini’s aunt) further advised that he had planned to move back to Lebanon without my consent,” the affidavit said.

Calgary police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for El-Husseini, 34, on a charge of abducting a child in contravention of a custody order.

However, the family court order and the Canadian warrant don’t have any authority in Lebanon, which has never signed an international treaty governing parental abductions, known as The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Police and Khalifeh’s lawyer, Andy Hayher, acknowledge the case is challenging to pursue from Canada.

“It’s very difficult in Lebanon to convince a court that a father has abducted his own child,” said Hayer, who is working on the case with a lawyer in Lebanon.

Khalifeh and Hayher have also contacted Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai, who is Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Obhrai said consular officials in Lebanon will be pressing the case on Khalifeh’s behalf.

Local police, too, are working with counterparts across jurisdictions, such as the RCMP and INTERPOL. In the meantime, Khalifeh is trying to remain strong until she can see Jad, who was supposed to be starting Grade 2 at the Calgary French and International School.

“He’s my life. He’s my everything,” she said.

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