Mothers in Hague plea – Call to govt not to sign child abduction convention


August 22, 2016

Source: telegraphindia.com

A group of women who fled abusive spouses abroad with their kids have appealed to the government to not sign the Hague Convention on child abduction, which will force them to return.

india-Hague-Convention-on-Parental-Child-Abduction

It was in 1983 that The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction came into force, ensuring that any child wrongfully removed from the place of habitual residence is returned.

India has yet to sign the convention despite pressure from the US and UK where a large number of Indians migrate to. But the women and child development ministry has, for the first time, proposed a legislation to clear the decks for the government to sign on the dotted line.

This would mean that if India were to receive a request from another country to return an “abducted” child, an Indian court would be urged to comply. This would be despite the fact that under Indian law, a child in the custody of either parent is seen to be in lawful custody and is not defined as an “abducted” child.

“Most of us are educated, working in mid to senior management level positions in the US when we had to leave with our children for India. We did so because we were married to abusive, alcoholic men and feared for our and our children’s lives.

“How can the government force my child to go back to such a man?” asked a young woman from Mumbai who recently returned from the US with her child and is now embroiled in a custody and divorce case.

The Telegraph spoke to many women who have returned with their children over the past few years but all refused to be identified with location and case history on the ground that their cases were sub-judice. They have written to women’s minister Maneka Gandhi and started a petition online.

“The repercussions for us will be grave if India signs this. We will lose our children because most of us have already lost custody cases abroad because we were absent during the proceedings,” said a mother who fled the US after she found her husband sexually abusing her daughter.

The mothers said they did not opt for custody battles in the US as under American law it was a rarity to grant sole custody to a parent. The courts generally granted shared parenting or visitation rights for a spouse, even if accused of domestic violence.

“In such cases where parenting rights are shared or when the abusive spouse has visitation rights, women are stuck in that country for their children. They are not allowed to take their kids out of the country and it becomes a very difficult situation,” said a woman, whose husband was granted custody of their child by a New York court in her absence.

Some women said they knew of cases where, despite multiple complaints against husbands to the authorities abroad, no action was taken.

Another mother of a toddler in Bangalore said she was fortunate to have survived domestic abuse in California. Her husband routinely choked and threatened her as she and her parents had refused dowry demands, she said.

Another young mother spoke of the psychological wounds inflicted on her and her child. Her spouse would lock her child in the car for half an hour on cold wintry nights as a punishment.

“The problem abroad is that if a woman reports a case of domestic violence multiple times, instead of taking action, they ask us to leave the house with the child and go to a shelter home, thus making the woman helpless.

“Other times, the child protective services would remove the child from the home. So, in most cases, women don’t even complain about domestic abuse,” said a woman, who had her child removed by the child protective services.

Also, under the Hague Convention, the burden of proof rests with the “abducting parent”, who is required to provide “clear and convincing evidence” of abuse of the child.

The Japanese government deliberated for years about signing the convention, and only did so with the caveat that children exposed to adult domestic violence would be considered at “grave risk” of harm in that country.

There are reports that international family lawyers in the US are planning to submit an appeal to amend the International Child Abduction Remedies Act to ensure that American law properly distinguishes between parental “abduction” and “flight to safety”.

Officials in Maneka’s ministry, which has put up the legislation for consultation, said talks would be held with these women and civil society groups before a decision is taken.

“We are in no hurry to sign the convention,” an official said.

 

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Parents of abducted kids seek justice from US President Barack Obama


April 20, 2016

Source: oneindia.com

Washington, Apr 20: Parents of abducted kids, including Indian-Americans, will converge in the US capital this week to meet lawmakers and hold a candle light vigil near the White House to seek justice for their children some of whom are allegedly taken to India following their kidnapping.
Obama-White-House
Parent-led groups ‘Bring Our Kids Home’ and ‘Coalition to Stop International Parental Child Abduction’ will reach out to lawmakers to advocate the US and foreign governments, including that of India, to address the growing issue of International Parental Child Abductions, a report said.
Each year over 1,000 cases of American children abducted to other nations are reported and many more go unreported. “India is the top non-Hague signatory destination of child abductions from the United States and top three overall from the US,” the report said yesterday.
Last year, the US State Department cited India as one of the 22 nations showing patterns of non-cooperation in resolution of child abduction cases originating from America. “This is the second year we will be participating in advocacy efforts along with other parent groups from all over the United States,” said Ravi Parmar, one of the parents whose kid has been abducted to India. “We want to impress upon our governments that parental child abduction is not a ‘child custody’ issue, and just because a parent wrongfully removes their children from the United States, it does not make it right,” he said. “India does not recognise parental child abduction as a crime, despite decades of evidence that show the detrimental impact on victimised children and left behind families, children rights groups, and legal experts urging India to do so,” he added.
The coalition will conduct a Congressional briefing for on April 20, urging legislative changes to address gaps in the US laws and enhancing Congressional oversight on key Federal agencies, including the US Justice Department for its failure to fully implement the International Parental Child Kidnapping Crime Act, which makes parental child abduction a federal felony.
Later in the evening, the parent-led coalition will hold a Candle Light Vigil at the White House, to urge Obama to intervene and seek cooperation from nations, including India, who have shown patterns of non-cooperation in return of abducted American children, the statement said. On April 22, Bring Our Kids Home will join other coalition partners on the 3rd annual Embassy Walk in Washington, DC for a peaceful march to protest the lack of concerted action by foreign governments where US children have been abducted to.
It will also meet with Indian embassy officials to discuss updates since their last meeting in November 2015 and make a humanitarian appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting urgent action to give left behind parents in the US access to their abducted children in India.

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Can a father be extradited if accused of abducting his child?


March 15, 2016

Source: thehindu.com

Can a person challenge a red corner notice in an Indian court? This question came up in a division bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday.

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The context was a case of alleged parental abduction of a child from Lithuania to India, in which Interpol had issued a ‘red corner’ notice — usually issued to seek the arrest and extradition of a wanted person —against the father of the child, Kanishk Lodh.

Kanishk-Lodh

Mr Lodh had brought his child to India against his estranged wife’s wishes, and she had launched an abduction offence against him. He had married a Lithuanian national, Renata Katinaite, in the USA in 2012, and they had a daughter, who died. The couple subsequently separated after marital trouble, but reunited in 2014, and in June 2015, had a son in the USA. Lodh argued that his wife was a negligent and uncaring mother, and he brought the baby to Mumbai in the interests of the child.

Renata-Katinaite-Lodh

The division bench, Justices Naresh H Patil and AM Badar, pondered over several related questions, and asked about the procedure to be followed in cases where India has and does not have an extradition treaty with a foreign country. Observing that “In family matters you have to be sensitive,” the court wondered about the advisability, in such matters, of arresting alleged abductors, and sending them into custody along with the minor children pending a magistrate’s enquiry. The judges also asked whether the courts had powers to intervene in such matters, and at what stages this might be warranted.

Amicus Curiae (‘friend of the court’ which means a person with experience or expertise in a subject, but no interest in the specific legal case being heard) advocate Rui Rodrigues told the court that in cases where India and the other country had a treaty, India could arrest a person against whom a red corner notice had been issued and produce them before a magistrate. Where no treaty existed (India does not have a treaty with Lithuania), the government was not obliged to act unless a request was made by the foreign government for the person to surrender.

In such cases, the CBI, which would be the concerned authority, would merely inform Interpol if they knew of the wanted person’s whereabouts, but need take no further action until an official request was made. The bench then asked Mr Lodh’s lawyer, RA Shaikh, to add the central government as a party in the proceedings and for a brief written submission from amicus Rodrigues. The matter will next be heard on April 13.

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India Considered ‘Safe Haven’ For Parental Child Abduction


By Steven Tanner on November 9, 2010 8:58 AMNo TrackBacks

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Rex Arul uses President Barack Obama’s upcoming diplomatic trip to India as an opportunity to speak out about abductions of U.S. children to the South Asian country. The U.S. has more unresolved parental child abduction cases involving India than any other country besides Mexico, according to the U.S. State Department.

The State Dept. currently is working on more than 100 cases involving U.S. children taken to India by a parent against the will of the other parent; and overall, there has been a 160 percent increase in parental abductions from the U.S. to other countries in the past 10 years.

But despite the best efforts of even the most skilled Atlanta divorce lawyers, it’s extremely difficult to convince the Indian courts to honor a U.S. custody order in most cases. In fact, India has the dubious distinction of being a “safe haven” for international child abduction, most often by one of the child’s parents.

India has not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, even though 80 other nations have since its drafting 30 years ago. Signatories of the international treaty agree to return abducted children back to their homes in honor of the home country’s family courts.

Instead of honoring U.S. court orders pertaining to child custody, Indian courts often assume jurisdiction and hear cases as if they hadn’t been tried in the U.S. And since more than 30 million such cases are pending in the Indian courts, causing long delays, the columnist claims this gives abducting parents time to “create facts to argue that the American child is settled in India.”

And even if your child is abducted to India and you seek help from the  State Dept., its website offers the following warning:

“Once a child has been abducted to India, remedies are very few.”

That’s not very encouraging. But speaking with a Georgia family law attorney if you believe your child may be abducted to India could go a long way toward preventing it in the first place.

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