DA Child Abduction Unit Recovers Autistic Boy from Mexico


October 26, 2012

Source: scoopsandiego.com

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis announced today that her office’s Child Abduction Unit successfully located a 7-year-old autistic boy in Mexico and reunited him with his mother in San Diego.

An arrest warrant has been issued for 37-year-old Julio Rocha, who in 2007 took his then 2-year-old son, Keoni Rocha, to Mexico after the boy’s mother requested full custody. Julio Rocha has been charged with one felony count of child abduction.

“Locating missing children and returning them home to San Diego isn’t easy within the United States, let alone across an international border,” DA Dumanis said. “The dedicated investigators in our Child Abduction Unit routinely overcome difficulties in dealing with foreign governments to recover children from around the world.”

The DA’s Child Abduction Unit is contacted when a child is taken form his or her parent or rightful guardian in violation of that person’s right to custody. Investigators in the unit work with Mexico and other countries to track down children and get them home safely.

In this case, a young woman doing online research for a school project in Mexico came across a poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with information about Keoni Rocha and his father. The girl recognized the boy as a neighbor and contacted authorities.

Thanks to help from the neighbor, District Attorney Investigators were able to negotiate a voluntary return of Keoni Rocha’s with his grandparents at the Mexico City airport last week.

“It was the most heart-wrenching return I have ever seen,” said DA Investigator Carole Snyder who works in the Child Abduction Unit. “The grandmother and the aunt knew this would be the last time they saw Keoni. The boy’s mother, Leilani Masumoto, who had not seen her son in five years, bonded like they were meant to be as soon as they were reunited at the airport.”

Last year, the DA’s Child Abduction Unit conducted 150 investigations and recovered 75 abducted children from around the U.S. In addition, the unit worked 30 cases involving children being abducted from, or taken to other countries, including, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Columbia, and Dominica. In 2011, the Child Abduction Unit’s ‘Visitation Reporting System’ which is accessible via the DA’s website, logged 2,096 violations.

“Over the years, we’ve successfully located children and returned them from several countries including France, the Philippines, Sweden, Germany and Mexico,” DA Dumanis said. “Given San Diego’s location, a number of child abductions involve children who are taken across the border to Mexico.”

The DA’s Child Abduction Unit assists parents in both countries. The number of cross-border cases involving Mexico handled by the DA’s Office has grown from 10 cases in 2006, to 21 cases in 2011. So far this year, the unit has opened 15 such cases. The District Attorney’s Office Child Abduction unit is only involved when a parent or other family member abducts a child involving a violation of Family Court, Juvenile Court and/or Probate Court orders.

If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Julio Rocha, who is believed to be living in the United States, please call 619-531-4345

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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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Bortförda Barn: Fler barn förs bort från Sverige


Source: SvD

Fler barn förs bort utomlands av en förälder. Och UD tror att utvecklingen kommer att fortsätta.

Fler barn förs bort utomlands av en förälder. För fem år sedan var antalet ärenden där barn förts bort 72, i fjol var motsvarande siffra 108 och hittills i år ligger den redan på 110, rapporterar Sveriges Radios Ekot.

Just nu arbetar utrikesdepartementet (UD) med 120 öppna ärenden gällande bortförda barn de senaste åren.

Den uppåtgående trenden beror enligt UD till stor del på att vi reser och flyttar allt mer mellan olika länder och bildar familj över gränserna.

UD bedömer att utvecklingen med fler bortförda barn kommer att fortsätta.

– Antalet bortförda barn har ökat ganska tydligt sedan 2004. Det är i dag vanligare med familjebildningar över gränserna och vi ser tydligt att det slår igenom i utvecklingen över ärendena, säger Anders Jörle, presschef på utrikesdepartementet.

Det finns också ett mörkertal.

– Hur stort det är vågar vi inte ha någon uppfattning om, säger Jörle.

Oftast är det mamman som för bort sitt barn – det gäller i sex av tio fall, enligt UD.

Det är mycket vanligare att fall klaras upp om barnet förts till ett land som tillämpar Haagkonventionen. Då brukar 85 procent av barnen kunna återföras. För länder som inte är bundna av konventionen är siffran 30 procent.

– Då gäller det landets lagstiftning och vi får söka diplomatiska vägar att gå fram. Det kan vara komplicerat i länder med en mer patriarkal lagstiftning som ger mannen all rätt, säger Anders Jörle.

Han framhåller också att alla uppklarade fall inte är lyckliga.

– Att det blir uppklarat betyder att fallet får en juridisk lösning i enlighet med konventionen, som tar sin utgångspunkt i hur barnet mår. Det är ett betydande problem att utredningarna drar ut på tiden. Då kan bedömningen av barnets väl ändras under tidens gång.

Oftast försvinner barn då den ena föräldern tagit med dem på semester till hemlandet. Men barn kan också rövas bort från skolan eller helt enkelt inte återlämnas efter umgänge. Det säger Ia Sweger, advokat som företräder många föräldrar som har fått sina barn bortförda.

– Ofta sker det i ett läge där föräldern känner på sig att den ska förlora vårdnadstvisten och tar lagen i egna händer, säger Ia Sweger.

Bortförandet vittnar om en stark misstro mellan föräldrarna.

– Många gånger är det en djupgående konflikt med anklagelser om både det ena och det andra. Folk förlorar helt omdömet om vad som är bäst för barnet.

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Parental Child Abduction: More kids abducted from Sweden


Source: The Local

Over 100 children have been abducted and taken overseas by one of their parents in each of the past two years, reflecting a significant rise on on 2006, according to a report by Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme.

The Swedish foreign ministry is currently working with 134 ongoing cases regarding the abduction of children by one of their parents in recent years.

So far this year 100 children have been taken out of the country, continuing a rising trend from 2010 which saw 108 children whisked away.

The figures indicate a significant rise on 2006 when 72 children were abducted.

The foreign ministry explained the increasing trend as due to changing migration habits, increased travel and more marriages which span international marriages.

According to the foreign ministry the best chance of locating an abducted child is if he/she has been taken to one of the 80 signatories to the Hague Abduction Convention which came into force in 1980.

The primary intention of the Hague Convention is to preserve the status quo child custody arrangement which existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal.

The foreign ministry advises that if a child has been taken to a country which is not a signatory to the convention, repatriation is further complicated.

Sweden ratified the convention in 1989.

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International Parental Child Abduction – Mexico part I


Source: Divorce Lawyer Blog

GENERAL INFORMATION: Mexico is a federal republic formed by 31 states and the Federal District. A party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since 1991, Mexico is the destination country of the greatest number of children abducted from the United States by a parent. The Hague Abduction Convention provides a civil legal mechanism for parents to seek access to or the return of children wrongfully removed or retained in Mexico.

With respect to child custody, Mexican law distinguishes between parental authority (patria potestad) and custody (guarda y custodia). Patria potestad refers to parents’ responsibilities and rights regarding the child, including the responsibility to care for the child, reside with the child, and provide for the child’s necessities (for example, food, education and development). It also includes the right to correct the child, as well as the right to control and manage any property or rights the child may have.

Absent a court order, parents have equal patria potestad rights and responsibilities to their minor children. In reality, one parent may make all decisions for the child. If parents cannot agree over the exercise of the patria potestad, they may ask a judge to decide which parent makes the decision. If the parents are deceased or unavailable, the paternal grandparents exercise patria potestad; if they are deceased or unavailable, the maternal grandparents exercise these rights.

Most children live with their mothers after divorce. If fathers want the children to reside with them, it is typical that boys will live with the father and girls will live with their mother. At age 14, the child may decide which parent the child wishes to live with.

Mexican Immigration authorities confirm the consent of both parents before allowing any minor of any nationality to leave the country; any parent traveling alone with a minor must present a written statement from the absent parent. Mexican Foreign Ministry officials requires the signature of both parents for children younger than 18 years to obtain Mexican passports.

The Mexican agency responsible for locating missing children is the police authority. Locating missing children can be a challenge in Mexico. The Department of State’s annual Compliance Report on the Hague Abduction Convention details many long unresolved child abduction cases to Mexico for which the children have not been located.

LEGAL SYSTEM: Mexico is a civil law country, which means that court decisions in Mexico are based upon Mexican civil code. In each of the 31 states in Mexico, state law establishes the structure and function of the courts, as well as its own constitution, laws, regulations, and decrees.

Generally, state courts are organized in the following way: the highest appellate court is known as the Superior Court of Justice (Tribunal Superior de Justicia); this court is followed by the Courts of First Instance (Tribunales de Primera Instancia) of ordinary jurisdiction, responsible for hearing civil, criminal and commercial causes. Immediately below, are the minor courts of special jurisdiction, such as the family courts and bankruptcy courts. Family law courts handle divorce and custody cases.

RETAINING AN ATTORNEY: Mexico’s National System for the Comprehensive Development of the Family, known as DIF, (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) offers free legal assistance to vulnerable adults and children in Mexico. The system consists of one federal DIF institute, 32 DIF agencies (one for each state and one for the Federal District – DF in Spanish) and 2, 274 municipal DIF agencies. At the state level, the wife of the governor is often the head of the DIF.

A parent does not need to retain private counsel to file a Hague Convention petition in Mexico. The Central Authority of Mexico (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) will, upon receipt of the Hague Convention application, prepare a written communiqué for the court, containing an explanation of the Hague Convention and its objectives. A parent may choose to retain an attorney, however, to follow-up on the case and to provide them with direct information on the status of the case. A retained attorney should contact the Central Authority of Mexico as soon as possible after the application is submitted.

It is important to note that while the Central Authority of Mexico does not represent Hague Convention applicants in court or assign an attorney to take the case, the Central Authority of Mexico will prepare the required documentation to submit the case in court. In Mexico, Family Court judges are authorized to intervene ex-officio in family matters and therefore have the power to enforce their decisions without the involvement of private counsel. Nevertheless, parents in the United States have said that having private legal representation resulted in fewer delays in the application process.

CITIZENSHIP / PASSPORT MATTERS: Children born in Mexico or born abroad to Mexican parents are entitled to Mexican citizenship. Mexican law recognizes dual nationality for Mexicans by birth. U.S. citizens who are also Mexican nationals are considered Mexican by local authorities.

Mexican law requires that any non-Mexican citizen under the age of 18 departing Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not traveling with the child to or from Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s).

A parent can prevent issuance of Mexico’s passport to their child, because issuance of a Mexican passport to a minor child requires the signed consent of both parents. Mexico does not allow a child to enter on a parent’s passport. The child needs his/her own passport.

Exit Permits: Mexican law requires that any non-Mexican citizen under the age of 18 departing Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not traveling with the child to or from Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s).

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Gaddafi Killed in Sirte, Libya


Source: The Guardian

• Libyan PM confirms death of former dictator
• Pictures and video show body in the streets
• Final pro-Gaddafi stronghold Sirte falls to NTC

Associated Press reports that bodies of “suspected Gaddafi loyalists” could be seen lying outside storm drains where Gaddafi was reportedly found hiding in Sirte. “The concrete walls of the drains are spray-painted with graffiti and the earth around them is dry,” AP’s reporter writes.

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Rally planned to raise awareness of parental abduction issue during Biden visit


Source: Japan Today

TOKYO —

Both foreign and Japanese left-behind parents will stage a street demonstration on Tuesday to coincide with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Japan.

The march will start from Mikawadai Park near Roppongi station (exit 6) and go past the U.S. Embassy and Japan Federation of Bar Associations, ending in Hibiya Park. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. and the march at 11:30 a.m.

Organizers said the purpose of the demonstration is to raise public awareness about the abduction issue and urge Biden to address child abduction publicly so that the human rights of children and parents are protected and abducted children are returned to their loving parents.

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Child Abduction Statistics


Source: ygoy.com

About 260,000 children are abducted every year in the United States of America. Of these child abduction only about 115 result in very serious consequences, like injury or death.

The number of children reported missing in the U.S is about 800,000 every year. But this figure can be misleading, as it includes many trivial incidents like overstaying with a parent.

Break up of child abduction statistics

  • 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is about two children every day.
  • Of the children reported missing, 350,000 are family abductions. That is, they are taken away by family members in violation of custody agreements.
  • Non – family abductions amount to 204,000. These include kidnappers who are acquaintances or complete strangers to the victims.
  • Only 115 of non-family abductions are stereotypical abductions, defined as those in which a child is detained overnight, transported atleast 50 miles, held for ransom or intended to be kept permanently or killed.
  • The rest of the 800,000 missing cases include runaways, throwaways, or lost children.

Family child abductions

  • In 16% of family abductions, the child experiences severe mental harm.
  • 8% of the children experience physical harm.
  • 7% of the children are sexually abused.
  • Mothers take the child away 46% of the time.
  • Fathers take the child away 54% of the time.

Non-Family child abductions

  • More than 65% of the children abducted by non-family members are girls.
  • 46% of children are sexually abused.
  • 31% of the children are physically abused.
  • 32% of abductions take place in a street or a car and 25% take place in a park or a wooded area.
  • The top 3 places an abductor imprisons the child are – a car, the abductor’s home and the abductor’s building.
  • Most abductions are carried out within a quarter of a mile of the child’s home.
  • 75% of the abductors are male.
  • 67% of them are below 29 years of age.

Stereotypical kidnappings

  • 40% of children in stereotypical kidnappings are killed.
  • 4% of children are never found.
  • 79% kidnappings are carried out by strangers and 21% by acquaintances.

Nearly 75% of the parents in U.S fear that their children might become victims of abduction.

 

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Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan


Source: CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A young Iraq War veteran is in the fight of his life against his ex-wife to bring his children home.

Michael Elias, who is now a Bergen County sheriff, claims his wife kidnapped their two young children and took them to Japan.

America, the country he risked his life defending, is powerless to bring his children back.

At 26-years-old, Elias has already endured more pain than most people ever will.

As a young Marine, the New Jersey native was injured twice in Iraq – the first time when he’d only be in-country two weeks, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports.

“We were hit by an improvised explosive device around three o’clock in the morning, then we were ambushed by small arms fire,” Elias told Dahler.

When he returned from Iraq three years ago, Elias was greeted by his wife, Mayumi, and his two young children, Jade and Michael, Jr. He was also met with the news that Mayumi had been having an affair while he was at war and she wanted a divorce.

A Bergen County judge granted the couple joint custody and ordered that the children’s passports be surrendered, even though Elias had no idea what Mayumi was going to do.

elias and mayumi Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan(credit: Handout via CBS 2)

A few months later, Elias and his mother were expecting Mayumi to drop the kids off. But they never showed.

“My mother went over there and the apartment was completely empty, like ready to be rented. The very next day,” Elias said.

Mayumi, her alleged boyfriend and the children were on a plane to Japan.

Mayumi was able to obtain new passports for her children since she worked at the Japanese embassy processing visas and passports.

The question is, did anyone with the embassy help her?

The Japanese Consulate has yet to return any calls to CBS 2.

“I was horrified,” the children’s grandmother, Nancy Elias, said. “We just said, ‘Okay, she kidnapped them. She not only crossed state lines but she took them to another country. This is wrong, we’ll get them back.’”

elias children Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To Japan(credit: Handout via CBS 2)

In doing their research, they quickly learned a devastating fact: of the thousands of children from all over the world who’ve been abducted to Japan, not one has ever been returned home.

“It’s a haven for child abduction,” Nancy said.

The problem is Japan is not party to the Hague Convention on Parental Abduction, and despite pleas by the U.S. State Department, there are no legal means to bring the Elias children back home.

“It has destroyed me, my son, my whole family,” Nancy said. “We’re never going to be the same. Never.”

“When she took them, she took my soul with her,” she added.

This past May at a congressional hearing on abducted children in Japan, Elias described the last time he saw his children via Skype.

elias and jade Iraq War Vet Says Wife Kidnapped Children To JapanMichael Elias and his daughter Jade (credit: Handout via CBS 2)

“My daughter Jade looked at her mother in heartache and said to her something ever so softly in Japanese. When I asked Mayumi what Jade had said, she replied, ‘She wants to be with you.’ The monitor immediately went blank. That was the last time I saw my daughter’s face.”

When Michael was in Iraq, it was clear who the enemy was, but not anymore. His most prized possession is now a photo of his daughter holding his hand the day he came home from war.

“It’s disgusting to me that this is allowed. We’re supposed to be the most powerful nation and these are our allies. These are not our enemies. I don’t understand what the problem is,” Elias said.

He vows to never give up but his only hope now, he says, is for the president himself to put direct pressure on Japan.

President Obama recently brought the issue of parental abduction up with the Japanese Prime Minister and urged him to resolve the hundreds of outstanding cases.

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Child Abductions By Parents Into Mexico Rising


Source: KPBS

SAN DIEGO — At 9 a.m. on a recent Friday, Brian Duzet crossed the border from San Diego to Tijuanaby foot. Blonde, with blue eyes, Duzet wears baggy jeans and flip-flops, even on a chilly Fall day. But he wasn’t in Tijuana for fun, like many other Americans who come on foot. He had come to see his daughter, Sam.

Three years ago, Duzet and his Mexican girlfriend split up, with shared custody of Sam. But one morning, she picked the little girl up and disappeared. Hours passed. Duzet began to worry. He left multiple messages on his ex-girlfriend’s cell phone. By the next morning, he suspected the worst: Sam had been taken to Mexico, without her father’s permission. She was abducted.

With the help of Mexican authorities, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of State, Duzet was able to locate his daughter. U.S. authorities pressed charges against his ex-girlfriend. He has spent more than $100,000 in travel, legal fees and other paperwork to try and get Sam back. Other parents without the means, he said, would have given up already.

“They walk away, and as hard as that might be, they wouldn’t see their kid until their child is old enough to seek them out,” Duzet said. “That is the sad reality of the situation. You can’t put a price tag on the hidden costs as well.”

Hidden costs like anxiety, and depression, the father said, both of which can be common among so-called “left-behind parents.”

“Someday I’m going to have to explain this all to her,” said Duzet, standing outside his ex-girlfriend’s Tijuana home, preparing himself to go in for his weekly court-mandated meeting with Sam.

“I don’t think now is appropriate. My daughter is smart enough to know there is something wrong,” the father said. “Sometimes kids act more adult than adults do.”

An international child abduction occurs when one parent takes a child to a foreign country and keeps him or her there without the other parent’s permission. If that parent refuses to bring the child back, it’s considered a federal crime in the U.S.

Of all transnational crimes, child abductions can be among the most difficult to resolve. Among the issues are different types of judicial systems, lack of jurisdiction by law enforcement agencies, and things like the rights of a minor, or the legal definition of custody, all of which can vary from country to country.

Thirty years ago, there was hope that an international treaty, the Hague Abduction Convention, would alleviate the problem. It has not, even though it has been signed by the U.S., Mexico and 70 other countries.

Richardson has printed flyers chronicling his son's abduction case, which he hands out to people outside the Mexican Consulate in San Diego.

Enlarge this imagePhoto by Ruxandra Guidi

Above: Richardson has printed flyers chronicling his son’s abduction case, which he hands out to people outside the Mexican Consulate in San Diego.

In 2008, 300 American children were abducted into Mexico. In 2009 and 2010, that number grew to 500. In response, the state department has boosted its staff dealing with abduction cases from 18 to 65.

“I think there are obvious reasons for that,” said Scott Renner, branch chief for outgoing abductions to Mexico and Canada for the state department. “Our very strong cultural and social and economic ties with Mexico, lots of cross-border relationships, lots of immigration back and forth, and a very long border.”

In the last three years, Mexican officials dealing with abductions have also made a greater effort to work alongside law enforcement and the U.S. government to return abducted children as promptly as possible.

The Mexican Consul in San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau, does not think it is fair for parents to blame Mexican authorities for unresolved abductions. From her perspective, the answers to abductions must come from the courts, not from diplomacy.

“There are already a very specific set of procedures in place to try to prevent abductions and reunite kids with their parents,” Gomez Arnau said. “We help guide the parents through the Mexican court system, but our consulate does not intervene in this process.”

Trevor Richardson, another San Diego “left-behind parent,” said he has reached out to the Mexican Consulate, the state department, and the FBI to no avail. His son was abducted four years ago, and he remembered thinking he would be able to get him back in a matter of months.

“I also remember thinking to myself that somehow I would be protected,” Richardson said. “Protected by our laws, and our courts, and our law enforcement, our government, the FBI.”

Over the years, Richardson has met other desperate parents who took matters into their own hands, going as far as paying for a reverse abduction. But ultimately, he has come to believe his only option is to continue working within the proper channels.

“We have the laws right now, they are there, they just need to be enforced,” said Richardson, holding on to a photo of Andrew, his son. “Maybe when it comes to dealing with immigration policy with Mexico, child abductions kind of fall through the cracks a little bit, because there is bigger fish to fry.”

Richardson said he holds on to hope. But he cannot help but feel that in relation to other bi-national issues, his son’s abduction is at the bottom of a very long list.

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