Child Abduction: Why British Law Means Parents May Be Powerless To Get Their Children Back


August 29, 2012

Source: The Huffington Post

When Alison Shalaby’s seven-year-old daughter was taken to Egypt by her ex-husband, she found it hard to believe that after just one week in the country, her child was now legally considered “an Egyptian”.

She told The Huffington Post UK, “Whoever I contacted in the country said she was not British. That I was asking them to extradite one of their own. She’s seven-and-a-half, she’s been in the country a week, but they said she was Egyptian.”

Shalaby’s situation is all too common. Last week, British 13-year-old Adam Jones was in the headlines, apparently held in Qatar by his late father’s family.

adam jones

Adam Jones and his mother Rebecca, who says he has been held in Qatar since 2009 

His mother Rebecca Jones said she had been trying to bring him home since 2009 and has been lobbying the Foreign Office to reunite her with her son.

Adam wrote a letter to David Cameron, saying: “I think nobody cares about me. I beg you not to forget about me. Please let me go home to my family.”

He was apparently taken in 2009 when Ms Jones signed some documents in Arabic she was presented with by her late husband’s family. A Qatar court has denied her custody twice.

And this week, Leila Sabra organised a protest in Westminster to raise awareness of the case of her five year-old daughter A’ishah, who is in Egypt after her dad allegedly failed to return her after a routine custody visit in 2009.

She alleges that she won custody through the Egyptian courts, and had her daughter returned, but that she then went missing again on a second visit to her Dad in Egypt.

In the UK it is estimated more than 140,000 children go missing every year, one every three minutes, a statistic calculated by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, which includes teenage runaways, parental abductions and kidnappings.

child abduction

Estelle Clayton, who went missing for six weeks after she was taken abroad by her father, back home with her mother, Aneta, is one of thousands who go missing each year 

Shalaby, the director of charity REUNITE, managed to get her daughter back when her former partner eventually moved back to Britain, but left her daughter in Egypt. She then started court proceedings.

She told The Huffington Post UK: “He didn’t really want to be in Egypt himself. I had to get a court order to get him to bring my daughter home, and he went to prison because he refused, he was in contempt of court.

“Often when a parent runs abroad, it’s a knee-jerk reaction, about going back ‘home’, and thinking it will be completely fine to just bring your child along, without thinking of their needs or the terrible upset it can cause to the child’s other parent.

“You think you can’t live without your child close to you, but that’s exactly what you are doing to the child’s other parent.”

The legal system in the UK means that if a child goes to a country, like Qatar, which is not signed up to the Hague Convention, or does not have a bi-lateral agreement with the UK regarding children, then it can be extremely difficult and costly to get a child back, with the British government powerless to help apart from through political lobbying.

Shalaby said: “There is a misconception that the government can do something about it. But they have no power to dictate to a foreign country, to tell them to adopt the Hague Convention.

“The change has to come from grassroots campaigners in that country.”

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Boy abducted in Qatar sends ‘get me home’ plea to David Cameron


August 12, 2012

Source: The Guardian

Adam Jones

Adam Jones says he has been kept under virtual house arrest.

A British schoolboy who was allegedly abducted in Qatar nearly three years ago has appealed to David Cameron to help reunite him with his mother.

Adam Jones was separated from his British mother while visiting his dead father’s relatives in the Qatari capital Doha in October 2009. Since then the 13-year-old says he has been kept under virtual house arrest despite attempts by his mother, Rebecca Jones, to free him.

Adam also claims he has been punched and kicked by family relatives. He says he is not allowed out alone, has no internet access and is unable to call his mother. Cameron has written to his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, and the Arab state’s emir to demand that “Adam’s voice is heard” and that the case is “speedily resolved”.

In a recent letter to Adam, the prime minister pledges that he will personally keep urging the Qatari royal family to ensure that his wish to return to his mother will be granted. Cameron states: “I was very sorry to read that you are still separated from your mum. This must be very hard for you, but I want you to know that you are still in my thoughts. I will keep trying as hard as I can to help you, and I hope your family situation will change for the better very soon.”

In a handwritten addendum, Cameron states: “I promise I have not forgotten about you – and will keep trying to make some progress.”

His letter followed a plea from Adam, who 11 months earlier had turned to him in desperation. Dated 25 April 2012, Adam states: “It is nearly one year since I wrote to you asking for your help. I was so happy when you wrote back and told me you would do your best to help me get home. Did you forget about me?

“I want to go home now and I’m very sad and lonely.”

Adam reveals that he has also asked for Prince Charles’s intervention because “nothing has happened and I think no one cares about me”.

The alleged abduction of Adam is a continuing focus of diplomacy between Britain and the Arab state, his case having being raised personally by the Queen during a meeting with Thani. The Foreign Office’s child abduction section is also involved, with a spokesman saying it recognised the “enormous distress faced by Rebecca Jones in being separated from her son and we sincerely hope she is reunited with him soon”.

Yet Thani’s written response to Cameron states only that he will try “to find an amicable solution that preserves the rights of all parties involved”.

Jones said her son was effectively a prisoner at the high-walled, gated home of his Qatari relatives and was forbidden to visit friends. Even at school, the 45-year-old from Sheffield claimed, Adam was escorted between classrooms and held in a room after lessons to be picked up by relatives.

The ordeal began after she and Adam were invited to visit the parents of her late ex-husband on 3 October 2009. Rebecca was separated from Adam’s Qatari father Jamal, who died in a motorbike accident in 2005, but stayed in contact with his family to allow them access to Adam.

On the morning they were due to return to Bahrain, where Jones had taken a teaching job, she said she received a call asking if Adam could visit his sick grandmother. She agreed and a driver picked up Adam. Shortly after, his uncle, Fahad al-Mudhaki, rang and asked to meet her to discuss dividing up the proceeds of land belonging to Adam’s father. Although the documents were in Arabic, Jones says she trusted Mudhaki’s explanation that they comprised paperwork designed to safeguard Adam’s inheritance and signed them. “I just wanted to go home with my son and was not interested in the lands or money my son had been left by his father. It did not occur to me what would happen.”

The documents were to be used to kickstart the Mudhakis’ custody claim against her. Within minutes of signing, Jones says she realised she had been duped. She alleges that her husband’s relatives told her that she had been deliberately deceived: “I’ll never forget what Adam’s uncle Fahad told me: ‘I have lied to you and tricked you, Jamal did not take your son but I will’.”

The Mudhakis had made a court order in 2008 to win custody of Adam, confirming to her the abduction was premeditated. A custody hearing was already arranged for 13 October, days after the alleged kidnapping. “I felt sick to the stomach to realise that I had fallen easily into their trap.”

Adam, then 10, has been separated from his mother ever since, despite a series of custody appeals and Jones’s offer to waive Adam’s inheritance. A subsequent hearing ruled that Jones, who also has a four-year-old daughter Alex, is allowed to visit Adam twice weekly, but never unsupervised.

She says the teenager is increasingly depressed. Since being taken, Adam has seen his sister twice, while the Mudhakis refuse to let Adam’s British grandmother, 74, visit him.

“For the last three years Alex won’t sleep in her own bed,” said Jones, “she’s scared somebody is going to take her.”

Fahad Mudhaki is a senior police officer, a fact which Rebecca believes he has used against her. During her first visit to see Adam, eight weeks after he was taken, she said that 15 armed police officers surrounded the Mudhaki house and Jones was flanked by officers throughout their meeting. She says she has suffered a constant campaign of intimidation, sometimes receiving up to 20 calls a day from police, and each time she enters Qatar to visit Adam is terrified that she might be arrested.

A document from the British embassy in Doha states “the child was kidnapped by his uncle Mr Fahad Juma Abdullah al-Mudhaki, a Qatari police officer”.

Jones said: “I’ve been terrorised and treated as a criminal. We are still suffering every day without our little boy. The pain has not gotten easier as time has passed because I cannot accept what has happened.”

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One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

Contact us here: Mail

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443

UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271