2 French journalists charged on allegations of trying to blackmail Moroccan king


September 3, 2015

Source: USnews

French authorities have handed two journalists preliminary extortion charges on accusations that they tried to blackmail Moroccan King Mohammed VI.

A handout picture shows Morocco's King Mohammed VI giving a speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the People and the King's Revolution in Rabat on August 20, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Azzouz BoukallouchAZZOUZ BOUKALLOUCH/AFP/Getty Images

A handout picture shows Morocco’s King Mohammed VI giving a speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the People and the King’s Revolution in Rabat on August 20, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Azzouz BoukallouchAZZOUZ BOUKALLOUCH/AFP/Getty Images

The Paris prosecutor’s office said Saturday that French writers Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet were released under judicial supervision after being given the charges.

A French lawyer for the king said the journalists demanded 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in exchange for not publishing a compromosing new book about Mohammed VI. He said they were arrested in a sting operation.

The two are known for their critical writings about the king. The case has drawn widespread attention in Morocco, where the monarchy is considered above criticism.

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Hong Kong accepts the accession of Andorra, Korea, Morocco, Russia and Japan to the Child Abduction and Custody


October 17 , 2014

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Child Abduction and Custody (Parties to Convention) (Amendment) Order 2014 made by the Chief Executive under Section 4 of the Child Abduction and Custody Ordinance was gazetted today (October 17).

The Amendment Order serves to add the Principality of Andorra (Andorra), the Republic of Korea (Korea), the Kingdom of Morocco (Morocco), the Russian Federation (Russia) and Japan to the list of Contracting States in the Child Abduction and Custody (Parties to Convention) Order (Chapter 512A), so as to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the aforementioned States.

Hong Kong Children

A spokesperson for the Labour and Welfare Bureau said, “The Convention provides an effective international mechanism for the swift return of children wrongfully removed from their place of habitual residence to another Contracting State in violation of custodial rights. The Convention is now in force in 92 Contracting States.”

He pointed out that the Central People’s Government accepted the accession of Andorra, Korea, Morocco and Russia to the Convention on behalf of HKSAR in November 2013. With Japan ratifying the Convention in January 2014, the Convention has also entered into force between HKSAR and Japan.

In accordance with the requirements of the Convention, the Amendment Order specifies February 1, 2014 and April 1, 2014 as the respective dates on which the Convention came into force between the HKSAR and Andorra, Korea, Morocco and Russia; and between the HKSAR and Japan.

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Kidnapping for Ransom Too Lucrative for Terrorists


July 7 , 2013

Source: ASP

Kidnapping Western nationals for ransom has unlocked an alarming source of funds for terrorist organizations, and current counter-strategies don’t seem to offer an effective deterrent.

Kidnapping

According to David Cohen at the U.S. Treasury Department, terrorist organizations have accumulated over $120 million through kidnapping for ransom (KFR) between 2004 and 2012—a fairly enticing supply of cash for organizations that have increasingly turned to criminal networks and techniques to finance attacks.

The U.K.’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism estimates that over 150 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by Islamist terrorist groups since 2008, many by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). In fact AQIM alone received an estimated $65 million in KFR payments between 2005 and 2011, with notable kidnappings that include the In Amenas hostage crisis and the abduction of a German, a Swiss, and two British tourists in Mali.

Providing a rare look into the inner workings of the AQIM organization, a few weeks ago the Associated Press discovered a letter (verified by the Pentagon) from AQIM leaders scolding Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the AQIM faction al-Mulathameen Brigade, for his handling of the hostage negotiations for kidnapped Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler.

While the letter did provide valuable insight into the inner workings of AQIM, it most notably confirmed that leaders recognize the profitability of KFR as a long term strategy and that they are confident in their ability to negotiate higher and higher sums.

Although Canadian officials denied involvement, the letter indicated that Belmokhtar had negotiated $1.1 million in ransom (“meager” by AQIM standards) to secure the release of captured diplomat Robert Fowler in 2009. Some argued that while the Canadian government may not have paid the sum directly, officials have not denied that a third party was involved.

Most Western governments denounce negotiating with terrorists, but with the exception of the U.S. and the U.K. few seem to actually adhere to this pledge.

g8The G8’s communiqué issued last week did include a staunch guarantee from all member states to not paying terrorist ransoms. In addition to the three T’s—trade, taxes, and transparency—on the agenda, the world leaders united to “unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists.”

This declaration marks an important step towards showing solidarity among world leaders and publicizing the issue of KFR in regions like North Africa. Higher awareness among travelers and private sector workers might be the best first step.

However given the inconsistency of governments in the past, the G8 declaration needs some more prescriptions to have consequence.

Interestingly the other recommendations that the G8 made to improve transparency and fight corruption could also help to mitigate KFR if thoroughly pursued, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

Pertinent FATF standards include:

  • Linking customs and tax agencies to prevent money laundering and cash couriers
  • Establishing financial intelligence units that track illicit money flow
  • Stricter requirements for financial institutions to report suspicious activity
  • Criminalizing funding a terrorist organizations regardless if those funds are linked to an attack

These will help expose private companies or third party organizations that may be paying ransoms, with or without government knowledge, and impose much stricter consequences.

One potential obstacle is the difficulty with which governments label terrorists. As terrorist groups and other criminal organizations collaborate more, radicals will begin to use criminal surrogates to kidnap foreigners and negotiate ransoms on their behalf.

01114013_Kenya_border_crossing_300

This aspect has to be approached at a local and regional level. The U.S. can work with high KFR risk nations to improve protection services and institutions, but regional cooperation must improve, especially in North Africa. Morocco and Algeria have to reengage and participate in organizations such as the Arab Maghreb Union. Intelligence sharing from local sources and border cooperation can effectively combat criminal and terrorist operations.

If AQIM and other groups continue to reap cash from the KFR industry, other efforts to limit terror financing will become futile. The U.S. and the U.K. must continue to press Europe to commit to non-negotiation, foster greater regional cooperation in the Sahel and Maghreb, and increase public awareness of the high risk of kidnapping.

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Preventing Parental Kidnapping After Divorce


July 7 , 2013

Source: pasadenalawoffice.com

Parental kidnapping, while not something most parents will need to worry about after a Pasadena divorce, is still a risk all custodial parents must be aware of.

CHILDREN

The term parental kidnapping is used to mean that a parent who does not have legal custody has taken the child without the permission of the custodial parent. The parent taking the child may leave the state or even the country in order to avoid having the custodial parent make contact.

If your ex threatens to leave with your child, there are several preventative measures you can take. If you are separated, but not yet divorced, a judge can provide you with a temporary order of custody. Without a temporary order of custody, you both have equal rights to the child. Your lawyer can also help you implement protections in your custody order, such as having precise pickup times and requiring regular phone contact during visits.

Keep current photos of your child and your ex on hand to provide to police if needed. It is also a good idea to keep info such as your ex’s Social Security number, driver’s license number, and the make and model of his or her car on hand to provide law enforcement in the event of an abduction.

mother and daughter

Talk to your child’s daycare provider and/or teacher to make sure they know that your ex is not allowed to pick up your child. Schools and child care facilities assume both parents have equal custody rights unless they are told otherwise.

If your child has a passport, place it in a safe deposit box that your ex can not access. If your child does not have a passport, you should have his or her name added to the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert System. This ensures that you will be contacted if someone tries to apply for a passport in your child’s name.

 

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Innocents Abroad: The Rise of Cross-Border Child Abduction by Parents


July 2 , 2013

Source: The Huffington Post

In recent years, the world has seemed a more connected place.

happychild

Palm-sized technology has condensed contact between continents while the flow of people across time zones has increased dramatically.

Experience of new horizons – and the different cultures, cuisines and tongues which comes from it – has made for a more cosmopolitan life.

However, official research and the daily caseload of myself and other family lawyers all too often illustrates that there can be negative consequences.

The number of international family disputes requiring the involvement of UK courts has almost quadrupled in the space of only four years, according to a report published by one of this country’s most senior judges.

The data, which was published by Lord Justice Thorpe, who acts as the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales, showed there were only three new cases of that type handled by the office in 2007. The following year, the total had risen to 65 but by the end of last year, it had reached 253.

Lord Justice Thorpe said that the matters involved child abduction, adoption and forced marriage and were due, he claimed, to “globalisation, increasing movement of persons across borders, and the ever rising number of family units which are truly international”.

His remarks confirm something which is all too apparent to myself and my colleagues atPannone LLP, as we have remarked upon previously.

The comments are also supported by figures released not by the courts but by Government which evidenced what many believe to be at the heart of the trend which Lord Justice Thorpe is witnessing.

Child_Abductions

Last year, the Foreign Office published its own figures, illustrating that the number of parental child abductions which it had been called upon to assist in had climbed by 88 per cent in a decade.

It revealed that a specialist unit which it had set up to deal with the problem was getting four calls every day, half of which were turning into new cases.

Of course, it is not only relationships forged by individuals of different nationalities which run into difficulties. However, when these partnerships break down, there is often a natural tendency to return to family and familiar surroundings to recover from any feelings of disappointment or distress.

Where children are involved, such matters become more complicated, especially when one or other partner decides to remove them from the country in which they had been resident.

A country’s incidence of these sorts of cases mirror its ties with other states. The Foreign Office cited parental child abductions involving 84 different nations. According to Lord Justice Thorpe’s report, Poland, Pakistan and Spain were the three places which featured most frequently in the disputes which came to his attention.

Once removed, children are sometimes only returned after a complex process which can be long and drawn out. There can be serious ramifications for the families concerned, both legally and emotionally.

Taking a child out of the country without the express permission of a court or the other parent can be a criminal offence. No matter how comforting the prospect of returning to one’s family overseas might seem once a relationship has broken down the consequences need to be seriously considered.

Sadly, my workload and that of other family lawyers specialising in these cases shows no sign of letting up, regardless of the legal and personal consequences. If anything, the increasingly common nature of international partnerships makes further rises likely.

Given the prominence of Poland in figures from both Lord Justice Thorpe and the Foreign Office, it will be interesting to see whether allowing two other East European countries – Romania and Bulgaria – to live elsewhere across the continent without limitation will further fuel the number of international family units living in Britain and the terrible complications of their breaking apart.

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Parents on alert: Child abductions rarely committed by strangers


October 13, 2012

Source:KDVR

According to the Department of Justice, 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the united states.  Out of that number, 69,000 were kidnapped. “I think anytime a child is missing it’s a big number.  Whether it’s one or 69,000, but yes, 69,000 sounds like a large number,” says criminal justice professor Stacey Hervey from Metro State College in Denver.

Our children are taught to beware of stranger-danger. “If someone you don’t know approaches you, that you yell and scream that this is not my mom or dad,” says Hervey.

But the likely danger is closer to home.  Of the 69,000 children kidnapped every year, 82 percent, eight out of ten, are abducted by a family member.  “In the case of Jessica Ridgeway the media picks up on it very quickly and of course it puts the fear in every parent’s heart.  But in reality they are a very miniscule  number as far as stranger abductions.  The likelihood  is someone that you know is going to take your kid.”

When it comes to anyone having regular contact with your child, don’t be paranoid, be prudent.  “Child predators are very manipulative, and do want to work themselves into your life and make you trust them.”

And the odds of your child being abducted by anybody?  That would be .02 percent.  Perspective is everything.

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Fugitive Wanted For International Parental Kidnapping


July 19, 2012

Source: alexandrianews.org

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today the addition of Faical Ben Abdallah Chebbi, to the “Washington Field Office’s Wanted Fugitives” list. Chebbi, a former resident of Prince George’s County, Md., is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Tunisia and is wanted for international parental kidnapping.

On October 26, 2011, following his divorce proceedings, Chebbi, 40, was awarded visitation rights with his two children, Zainab, 3, and Eslam, 6. On November 11, 2011, Chebbi obtained his children from their maternal grandparents’ residence in Prince George’s County, Md. The children were supposed to be returned on November 13, 2011; however, on November 11, 2011, Chebbi and the children flew from Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., to Germany, and continued to Tunis, Tunisia. On November 12, 2011, Chebbi contacted the children’s mother who resides in Fairfax County, Va., and informed her that he and the children were in Tunisia and would not return to the U.S.

 Zainab Chebbi

Eslam Chebbi

On November 17, 2011, the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland, issued an order for Chebbi to return the children. On December 19, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a federal warrant for Chebbi’s arrest for removing the children from the U.S. and retaining them outside the U.S. with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.

Chebbi is 6’6” (198 cm) and weighs approximately 200 pounds (91 kg) with black hair, brown eyes and a medium complexion. Chebbi’s daughter, Zainab, has brown hair and brown eyes and has a mole on her right hip. Eslam, Chebbi’s son, has black hair and brown eyes. Both children speak English and are believed to be with Chebbi in Tunisia.

Chebbi speaks fluent Arabic, English and French and is likely to visit Algeria, Libya, Egypt and France. He may use an alias when crossing borders. While residing in the Washington, D.C. area, Chebbi was a limousine driver for several companies and operated his own limousine business called Airport Access. Chebbi is believed to continue to operate a self-employed business in Tunis, Tunisia, under the name Westwind Limousine.

The FBI investigates violations of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) of 1993 which states that a criminal arrest warrant can be issued for a parent who takes a juvenile under 16 outside of the U.S. without the other custodial parent’s permission. The FBI works these cases in partnership with international authorities through the U.S. Department of State, Interpol and FBI Legal Attaché offices.

Individuals with information concerning Faical Chebbi, or his children, call 1-800-CALL-FBI or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. Additional information regarding Faical Chebbi, including his wanted poster, is available on the FBI Washington Field Office’s website at http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/parent/faical-chebbi.

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Guarding Against International Parental Child Abduction: Part II


Source: divorcelawyerconnecticut

Two Parent Signature Law for a Passport

The United States does not have exit controls on its borders for holders of a valid passport. This makes preventing a passport from being issued to your child without your consent very important. Generally, if your child has a passport, it can be difficult to prevent the other parent from removing the child to another country without your permission.

U.S.law requires the signature of both parents, or the child’s legal guardians, prior to issuance of a U.S.passport to children under the age of 16. To obtain a U.S.passport for a child under the age of 16, both parents (or the child’s legal guardians) must execute the child’s passport application and provide documentary evidence demonstrating that they are the parents or guardians. If this cannot be done, the person executing the passport application must provide documentary evidence that he or she has sole custody of the child, has the consent of the other parent to the issuance of the passport, or is acting in place of the parents and has the consent of both parents (or of a parent/legal guardian with sole custody over the child to the issuance of the passport).

EXCEPTIONS: The law does provide two exceptions to this requirement: (1) for exigent circumstances, such as those involving the health or welfare of he child, or (2) when the Secretary of State determines that issuance of a passport is warranted by special family circumstances.

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program

You may also ask that your child’s name be entered into the State Department’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). Entering your child into the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program will enable the Department to notify you or your attorney if an application for a U.S.passport for the child is received anywhere in the United Statesor at any U.S.embassy or consulate abroad.

If you have a court order that either grants you sole custody, joint legal custody, or prohibits your child from traveling without your permission or the permission of the court, the Department may refuse to issue a new or renewal U.S.passport for your child. The Department may not, however, revoke a passport that has already been issued to the child. There is also no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued, since there are no exit controls for people leaving the U.S.If your child already has a passport, you should take steps to ensure that it is kept from a potential abductor by asking the court or attorneys to hold it.

IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND:

  1. The United Statesdoes not have exit controls.
  2. The Department of State may not revoke a passport that has been issued to a child, but you can ask a court to hold onto it.
  3. There is no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued.
  4. Your child might also be a citizen of another country (dual nationality). Even if he/she does not have a U.S.passport, your child may be able to travel on the other country’s passport.

The Privacy Act and Passports

Passport information is protected by the provisions of the Privacy Act (PL 93-579) passed by Congress in 1974. Information regarding a minor’s passport is available to either parent. Information regarding adults may be available to law enforcement officials or pursuant to a court order issued by the court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with (22 CFR 51.27).

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Parental Child Abduction – Muslim culture and laws


If a couple decided to get divorced, to whom the children will go?

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).

“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 says.

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.

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935% rise in child kidnapping / Abductions in 15 years


Source: TheSundayGuardian

While there is much hoopla about increasing crime rate in general, a report by a Delhi-based NGO, published last week reveals that kidnapping and abduction of children have increased by 935% in the last 15 years.

According to Twenty Years of CRC: A Balance Sheet, a study by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights that analysed the 2009 report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of reported cases on kidnapping of children in India increased from 894 in 1994 to 8,945 in 2009. These numbers are even more disturbing when you consider that NCRB takes only the First Information Report (FIR) and not the Daily Dairy (DD) entries.

So is there an increase in the actual crime rate? Or is it that more people are reporting them now? A bit of both, but the latter is more likely, says Amod Kanth, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights. “In the 1990s, other than murders, not many reported a missing child. So, if a kid was kidnapped, unless he/she is from an affluent or rich family and the case got media attention, it was never reported. That’s why most cases end up as DD entries,” he explains.

“In 2008-2009, for instance, the NCRB reported that 2,982 kids went missing in Delhi, out of which 368 were found. In about a few months, due to my commission’s insistence, an investigation was conducted in each missing case and we recovered 1,700 kids. Many of those cases were converted from a missing report to kidnapping. The courts (HC and SC) insist that missing cases have to be registered as kidnapping but it is done only if the family or parents of the child raise the issue,” he adds.

There is also another problem. Policemen are often accused of being lackadaisical in their preliminary investigation of DD entries. “An FIR is filed only after the police verify the facts of the DD entry. Most of the time, they do a hotch-potch job and close the case saying they didn’t find any credible evidence to pursue it,” says Bharti Ali, co-director of the Delhi-based NGO.

Kanth concurs and adds that registration creates accountability. “Senior policemen rarely sidestep child kidnapping cases. If there is a lapse, it is only because the system is obsessed with curbing crime through numbers,” he retorts. “If a senior officer files an FIR, it adds a number to the crime rate and that’s never a good sign. When number of crimes has increased, the legal system, senior bureaucrats that policemen report to and even the media hype the numbers, without understanding how the system works. Finally, the law enforcement agencies look like culprits.”

Ali also blames the infighting between courts and commission. “They argue about who is in-charge of the case and hardly interact. For instance, when the government locates child labourers, they’re sent home without producing them to the Child Welfare Committee. How can we track them?”

Moreover, when children from rich or affluent families are kidnapped, often the accused is known to the family. “If there’s demand for money, most families pay the ransom and don’t report the case. Their only concern is safety of the child, which is understandable but on the downside, the criminals remain unidentified,” adds Ali.

Poor kids are kidnapped often for trafficking, labour, marriage, begging, slavery, prostitution, etc. “I guarantee that out of the 8,945 cases in the report, at least three-fourth hail from the poorer sections of the society. Considering how time-consuming and expensive the legal system is, it’s hardly surprising that poor families rarely report a missing child,” she avers.

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