In International Child Abduction Cases – quiet diplomacy is not working


December 29, 2013

Source:  Washington Post

SEAN GOLDMAN was 4 years old when his Brazilian-born mother took him from their New Jersey home for what Sean’s father, David Goldman, thought would be a two-week vacation. Five years passed before the father again laid eyes on his son.

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“It was very painful,’’ David Goldman recalled. “The first time I saw him after nearly five years, he looked at me and asked me where have I been all this time. . . . He was told that I didn’t love him, that I abandoned him, that I never wanted him.”

The only unusual feature of this story is that David Goldman eventually regained custody, though even after the boy’s mother died in 2008 her Brazilian family continued to resist his efforts. He succeeded in part because Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)relentlessly focused attention and pressure on the case. Now a bill written by Mr. Smith, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, has been approved by the House, 398 to 0, and is set for consideration in the Senate. But the State Department doesn’t want the additional diplomatic tools the bill would provide.

According to State, 1,144 children were reported abducted from the United States in 2012. There were 1,367 in 2011 and 1,492 in 2010. State Department officials say they work hard to get those children back — or at least to get the cases fairly adjudicated — but they can’t or won’t say how many of those abducted children remain overseas. That raises questions about their claims for success for “quiet diplomacy.”

In a letter to Mr. Smith, Robert E. Wallace, executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), said the abduction of children by a separated spouse is a particular problem for service members, especially in Japan. Mr. Wallace said the service members’ appeals for help “are too often met with bad legal advice, misinformation or indifference. . . . It is time for the U.S. government to take concrete action.” An organization of victimized parents said that the result of quiet diplomacy is “that the Government of Japan has not once assisted in returning a single abducted child.” Japan at least is in the process of acceding to an international treaty on the subject; most countries have not done so.

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The House bill provides for a series of graduated sanctions against countries that demonstrate a pattern of non-cooperation; it also would encourage the United States to negotiate agreements with countries that have not ratified the treaty. In both cases, the executive branch would act only if it chose to do so; the bill provides for a presidential waiver. Nonetheless, a State Department official told us putting tools in the tool kit would be counterproductive because U.S. officials would face pressure to use them and other countries would resent the implied threat.

Given the administration’s inability to quantify its success, or to report any results at all, the argument for the status quo is not persuasive. An aide to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told us that the committee will take the measure up soon. We hope soon means soon. For thousands of parents deprived of the chance even to communicate with their children, quiet diplomacy isn’t getting the job done.

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Court-appointed visitation supervisor charged in parental abduction case


August 29, 2013

Source: The Republic.com

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine woman appointed by a court to supervise a visit between a mother and children has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child after the mother and kids fled the state.

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Jennifer Dore of Benton was the court-appointed visitation supervisor for Bethmarie Retamozzo. Authorities say she allowed Retamozzo to drive away with her children on Aug. 15 from Waterville.

Police say the 37-year-old Dore didn’t disclose the information to police until over five hours after Retamozzo left. Police said she placed the children at risk.

Retamozzo is being held without bail at the Kennebec County Jail on two felony counts of criminal restraint by a parent. She and the children were found Aug. 18 in South Carolina. She is expected in court Wednesday.

 

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Prevent abduction: guarding against international parental abduction


August 16, 2013

Source: The Examiner

Parental child abduction is a federal crime. It is also a tragedy that jeopardizes children and has substantial long-term consequences for the “left-behind” parent, the child, the family, and society.

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Children who are abducted by their parents are often suddenly isolated from their extended families, friends, and classmates. They are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems. Similarly, left-behind parents experience a wide range of emotions including betrayal, loss, anger, and depression. In international cases, they often face unfamiliar legal, cultural, and linguistic barriers that compound these emotions.

In this section of our Web site, learn about the measures you can take to prevent your child from being wrongfully taken to or wrongfully kept in another country. In addition to the materials below, also see these important links:

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program
Passport Requirements for Minors
Additional Prevention Tools
For Attorneys & Judges
International Parental Child Abduction Is Illegal

Under the laws of the United States and many foreign countries, international parental child abduction is crime. Removing a child from the United States against another parent’s wishes can be considered a crime in every U.S. state. In some cases an abducting parent may be charged with a Federal crime under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA). This can be the case even when neither parent holds a custody decree prior to the abduction. Nevertheless, a custody decree can be helpful to prevent an international parental child abduction, or to recover your child if he/she is abducted.

The Importance of a Custody Decree

A well-written custody decree is an important line of defense against international parental child abduction. In your custody decree, it may be advisable to include a statement that prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court. Ask your attorney if you should obtain a decree of sole custody or a decree that prohibits the travel of your child without your permission or that of the court. If you have or would prefer to have a joint custody decree, you may want to make certain that it prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court.

If your child is at risk of being taken to a country that partners with the United States under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), your custody decree should include the terms of the Hague Abduction Convention that apply if there is an abduction or wrongful retention (see country list).

The American Bar Association also suggests requesting the court, if the other parent is not a U.S. citizen or has significant ties to a foreign country, to require that parent to post a bond. This may be useful both as a deterrent to abduction and, if forfeited because of an abduction, as a source of revenue for you in your efforts to locate and recover your child.

REMINDER: Obtain several certified copies of your custody decree from the court that issued it. Give a copy to your child’s school and advise school personnel to whom your child may be released.

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.

Read more: Passport Requirements for Minors

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 States or 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:

The United States does not have exit controls.
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.
There is no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued.
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). For further information regarding the issuance or denial of United States passports to minors involved in custody disputes, please contact Passport Services.

For additional information about prevention measures, please visit web site at:http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/prevention/prevention_560.html.

Prevention Branch
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
Email: PreventAbduction@state.gov
Phone: (888) 407-4747
Fax: (202) 736-9133
Website: travel.state.gov

 

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1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
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Worldwide International Number: +31-208112223

Worldwide 24/7 Emergency Number: 0047 40466526

Parental Kidnapping – Now a Global Issue


May 27, 2013

Source: Boston Herald

On International Missing Children’s Day, marked May 25th, we remembered the thousands of missing children and the parents who grieve and plead for help. Since 2008, more than 7,000 American children have been abducted to a foreign country — not by a stranger, but by their other parent.

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Such children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and may experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness.

Members of Congress have seen the lopsided battles our constituents face to bring their children home from a foreign jurisdiction. Michael Elias, a combat-injured Iraqi veteran from New Jersey, has not held his children since 2008, when his ex-wife used her Japanese consulate connections to abduct Jade and Michael Jr. in violation of New Jersey court orders. Japan has refused to return the children or prosecute the abductor.

Elias told Congress, “All my hopes and dreams for their future now lie in the hands of others. … I am begging our government to help not only my family, but hundreds of other heartbroken families as well, to demand the return of our American children who are being held in Japan.”

Colin Bower’s children, Noor and Ramsay, were abducted from their home in Boston to Egypt nearly four years ago by their mother — who had lost custody because of her drug use and psychological problems. The Egyptian government facilitated the abduction by issuing fraudulent Egyptian passports, providing passage on the government-owned airline, and by shielding the mother, who comes from a well-connected family, from any accountability or responsibility.

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At a recent hearing Bower noted the billions of dollars in U.S. assistance to Egypt and observed, “Regardless of whatever moral, fiscal, or political balance you use, providing uninterrupted aid to a partner that acts this way is quite simply wrong. If this is American foreign policy, it’s flawed and it isn’t working. We aren’t getting what we pay for.”

Tragically, the Obama administration has limited itself to diplomatic requests for the return of the children. In the words of Bernard Aronson, former assistant secretary of state of inter-American affairs, “a diplomatic request for which there is no real consequence for refusal is simply a sophisticated form of begging.”

It is time for a new approach. That is why we have introduced H.R. 1951, the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, which will give the president powerful tools to motivate a country’s quick response for the return of abducted children.

If a country has 10 or more cases not being resolved in a timely manner, or the judiciary, or law enforcement, or other responsible entity is persistently failing to fulfill their obligations, the president can take action to aggressively advocate for our children’s return — such as denying certain assistance, canceling cultural exchanges, opposing international loans, or extraditing the abductor.

This bill creates the expectation of action — not just words — to bring every American child home. In the words of then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2012 passage of a Senate resolution calling for the return of the Bower children, we must “remain focused like a laser beam until this father is reunited with his two boys,” and every other abducted American child comes home. We can, and must, do more than talk.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R) represents New Jersey’s 4th District.

 

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‘My daughter was abducted’


April 13, 2013

Source: The Guardian , Kate Hilpern

Two fathers talk about what happened when their daughters were abducted by their mothers and taken abroad

Gary Mulgrew

Gary Mulgrew, whose daughter was abducted by her mother: ‘What if she’s waiting for me and I haven’t come?’ Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Aamina Khan’s bedroom is much like any seven-year-old’s. Her wardrobe is filled with clothes, her school uniform is laid out on her bed and her toys sit in a pile in the corner. The only thing that is missing is Aamina. Her father, Safraz, 44, who was awarded custody of her in 2008, has not seen his daughter since September 2011, when her mother fled the country with her.

“It’s the worst thing ever. Aamina was this happy, bubbly, talkative, active, little girl and our bond was so close. Now I just go home to an empty house day after day, not knowing where she is, or if she’s even safe,” says her father, a senior research scientist, who lives in South Croydon.

The number of children abducted and taken abroad by a parent has risen by 88% in just under a decade, according to new government figures. About 270 new cases were reported in 2003-4, while last year there were more than 500 new reported cases. But perhaps most surprising of all is that 70% of these abductors are mothers.

“This has certainly not always been the case, but it’s definitely changing,” says Joanne Orton, advice line co-ordinator for the charity Reunite. “We often see cases where the mother is a foreign national who has come to England, developed a relationship that then falls apart and she wants to go home to the comfort of her family. As Britain becomes increasingly multi-cultural, we can only see this trend increasing, and it can take months, and even years, of going through the courts for the father to see their child again, and even then, they may never succeed. It’s a major problem.”

Safraz met Aamina’s mother Humma, whose family originates from Pakistan, when they had an arranged marriage in 2004. “After we married, she spent more and more time with her own family, who lived about 10 miles away. When she became pregnant, I was overjoyed. I thought it would be our fresh start.”

But when Aamina was born in July 2005, Humma, who is a doctor, took a job 80 miles away. “Her mother went with her to look after Aamina while she worked, and I was invited to bring Aamina home at weekends. It was hard, but at least I saw her, and I became a very interactive father.”

But soon afterwards, Safraz spotted an email on the family computer, showing that Humma had applied for a job in Bermuda. “I was heartbroken and called the employer to say that I’d seek advice from a solicitor if Humma took our daughter.” The company withdrew the job offer, but Humma was angry and things went downhill. “She increasingly lived at her parents, while Aamina mostly stayed with me.”

In 2008, they separated and Safraz was given residency, while Humma got contact rights. But when, in September 2011, Safraz went to collect Aamina from a two-week stay with her mother, no one answered the door.

“The car wasn’t there and I felt sick. I called on Humma’s uncle nearby and he said they’d gone on holiday. I reported her missing to the police, and they discovered she had been taken to Abu Dhabi, then to Lahore. The penny then dropped about Humma’s recent visits to Pakistan. She had been setting up a new life for her and Aamina.”

Since then, Safraz has written more than 1,000 letters and attended countless court hearings in both England and Pakistan. “I’ve got my MEP on board and I’ve been to some horrible places in Pakistan, handing out photos and writing to schools. But still nothing. The police can’t find Aamina. It’s not that I want Aamina taken away from her mother – just that England is her home. She likes rainbows, her school and swimming lessons and she’ll be confused in a country she doesn’t know and where she must surely believe she can never trust anyone again if the main person in her life suddenly disappears from it.”

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The emotional effect of parental abduction on children can be devastating, says Orton. “The child loses trust in the people they should be able to trust the most, and from speaking to parents following a return, it seems that trust is lost not just in the abducting parent, but both parents. That can affect them for life – their self-esteem, their confidence and their expectations of others, causing them all sorts of problems further down the line.”

Unfortunately for fathers such as Safraz, locating children is particularly difficult in countries that are not signatories to the Hague convention, says Orton. “With countries that have signed up – the majority of which are in Europe, as well as Australia, Canada, America and some others – there are procedures in place that can speed things up, although it’s not always smooth even then. But with countries that aren’t signatories, such as Pakistan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, children can very easily disappear.”

Another major problem facing fathers is that many feel at a disadvantage within the court system.

Gary Mulgrew, 51, whose 11-year-old daughter was abducted six years ago by her mother and taken to Tunisia (also not a signatory to the Hague convention), says: “The courts are an utter nightmare for fathers. They seem to be predisposed to making things more difficult for them.”

Gary was one of the three millionaire British bankers, known as the NatWest Three or the Enron Three, who were accused of fraud against their former employer NatWest. They ended up in a US jail after losing a high-profile extradition case. Until the case started, Gary lived in Brighton with Laura, his wife of 12 years, their son Calum and daughter Cara Katrina. “But then we started appearing in the newspapers a lot. The stress would put most marriages under strain and especially ones like ours, which wasn’t strong.”

Calum, then eight, chose to live with Gary and while Cara Katrina, who was three, officially lived with her mother, she stayed with Gary most of the time.

“Laura had met this Tunisian guy Abdul, whom she married three months after I was extradited, so she spent most of her time with him. But I started to get worried about her taking the children away with him. She was American and hated living in the UK, only ever having done so because of me, so I took out a prohibitive steps order, which was supposed to prevent her taking the children out of the country without my permission, and I agreed to a large divorce settlement if she agreed to stay in the UK.”

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Then Gary found himself in Houston for four years – curfewed, tagged and eventually imprisoned. “Calum was with my family in the UK. I knew he was safe. But Cara Katrina just disappeared along with Laura. I was in this appalling situation where I was in another country, absolutely helpless and the police in Britain, when I phoned them, just ignored me. The minute you say you’re extradited, they think you’re a criminal and you can hear the change of tone of their voice when you say the abductor is the mother. They think: ‘Oh well, that’s not too bad then.'”

Calum travelled regularly to Houston to see his dad, but Gary felt at a loss when he tried to explain why his mother and sister had vanished. “Laura was always a good mother and even when we divorced she had stated that I was a good father, so it was difficult to understand her rationale. Calum had a few letters from his mother via his school, but there was never a return address.”

Even when Gary’s prison sentence came to an end, he found himself on probation in the UK, unable to travel to look for Cara Katrina. Finally, in April 2010, he got the go-ahead and boarded the first available flight to Tunisia.

“I’ve been back eight or nine times since, trying to find her, but I don’t know where to start and the authorities are useless, here and there. They say that unless I’m prepared to prosecute Laura, they won’t help, but I don’t want that. Who would that help? I’m not even saying that if I found Cara Katrina, I’d bring her home. I have to think about what’s best for her and after six years, I might have to accept that the right thing is for her to stay there. But, as it is, I don’t know if she’s safe, if she’s happy, if she’s educated. I don’t even know if she’s with her mother.”

Calum is now 17. “You can imagine what this has done to him. But we make the most of what we’ve got and have a strong relationship. We don’t talk about it much, but I always buy an extra ticket at the cinema and I encourage people to keep buying Cara Katrina birthday and Christmas presents, which I keep for her, so she knows we’re not giving up on her.”

Last year, Gary got some professional counselling. “Someone said I needed to treat it as a bereavement – not of Cara Katrina, but of the five-year-old Cara Katrina. But the thing about your children is that your love for them is intense, so this doesn’t ever get any easier. In my positive moments, I dream of her being treated well and that Abdul has this big family where she laughs and sings and goes dancing. But the nightmare moments are where I let myself think none of those things might be true and that she’s just waiting for me and I haven’t come.”

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There are no safe havens for parental child abductors


March 14 2013

To abduct a child, and remove him from his loving family and home is an egoistic and criminal act.  You can be sure that when your ex spouse hires ABP World Group, we will find you wherever you might be hiding. No matter where you go, or where you hide -we have the knowledge and capacity to track you down and recover the abducted child.

-ABP World Group is one of the world’s leading child and adult abduction recovery experts, and has participated remarkably in over 200 child-parent reunifications alone.

-ABP World Group has been assisting left behind parents, and recovering abducted children for more than 12 years.

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“After all my years of experience as Worldwide Medical Director for the worlds largest medical assistance company, I found only ABP World capable of providing the unique service of non-violent recovery of  an abducted child. It is very difficult to find a company like ABP World that can provide the experience, honesty, integrity, and assets to actually recover an abducted child safely and at a reasonable cost. I hold ABP World in highest regard and recommend them whole heartedly. The world is simply a better place because of the work they do”. 

Tragically International Child Abduction has reached global epidemic proportions.  According to leading experts the increase in inter-racial marriages and relationships  will, in the future, lead to a significant rise in the number of children born to parents of different nationalities

As is true for all relationships, a statistically significant number of these marriages or partnerships will also end in divorce. All too often, following the breakup of a marriage, one of the parents will abduct a child of that relationship against the wishes of the other parent,  frequently removing them to a country where the child has probably never lived. This is called “International Parental Child Abduction”.  Although there are various civil remedies available to parents of abducted children, the challenges they face are enormous, including first and foremost, locating  the child.

ABP World Group 4

Unfortunately for the majority of targeted parents, the financial burden involved in recovery and litigation falls upon their shoulders. With tens of thousands of children abducted by parents each year, the reality is that too many of these children never come home.  ABP World Group is dedicated to assisting those parents who need help in locating, rescuing, and returning  their abducted child home safely.

Our intelligence and investigative capabilities combined with our ability to dispatch personnel to most locations in the world offer a safe and strategic solution to protecting what is most important to you, your child.

Unfortunately in this present climate parental kidnapping occurs all too frequently and we are here to help you through this extremely traumatic period.

We are aware that parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but through the use of professional operatives with the skills and expertise necessary to find a resolution. We are here to help you.

ABP World Group’s successful recovery and re-unification strategies rely on the use of all the means available  including, but not limited to:

. Electronic Forensic Foot printing Investigations

. Intelligence Gathering

. Information Specialists/Skip Tracing

. Evidence Procurement

. Interview/Evaluation

. Surveillance Special Ops

. Non-Combatant Evacuation Ops

. Domestic Support

. International Operations

. Maritime/Land/Air transport

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International parental child abductions rise with global migration


February 26, 2013

Source: TheStar.com

As cross-border relationships become more common, so do cases involving kids seized and taken to another country. Left-behind parents want changes to the law.
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Stephen Watkins and sons, Alexander and Christopher. Police believe the boys are in Poland.

When a grandfather was found guilty last year of helping his daughter abduct her two boys to Poland, history was made. It was Canada’s first criminal conviction involving international child abduction by a parent.

Outside the Newmarket court where 78-year-old Tadeusz Ustaszewski’s sentencing was taking place, a group of Canadian parents held up signs and photos of their missing children, hoping to draw public attention to the issue of cross-border child abductions by estranged spouses.

Frustrated by legal bureaucracy, countries indifferent to Canadian court orders, and what they say is scant support from the Canadian government, left-behind parents have launched their own advocacy group. They plan to campaign for changes in the law to better detect and prevent child abduction.

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

STEPHEN WATKINS – FOUNDING MEMBER OF ICHAPEAU

So far, the group involves 13 families and 16 “lost” children. It is part of a growing movement in North America for stronger enforcement of the Hague Child Abduction Convention — a 32-year-old international treaty that deals with the return of children abducted by a non-custodial parent and transferred from one country to another.

“The fact is you have this melting pot of different nationalities. You date people of different nationalities, get married, have children — and they decide to go home,” said Stephen Watkins, a founding member of iCHAPEAU (International Child Harbouring & Abduction Prevention Enforcement Act Under-law).

“People paint it as a custody matter, but really, these countries have signed the international treaties and do not comply with these treaties.”

With the ease of global travel and explosion of Internet romances, the world has become smaller. Romantic relationships — and breakups — that span national borders have become more common.

These relationship breakdowns, often nasty for adults in the same locale, can be even more complicated when children and multiple government jurisdictions are involved.

A 2012 study by Nigel Lowe and Victoria Stephens at the Cardiff Law School in the United Kingdom found that the global number of Hague Convention applications to retrieve an abducted child had risen by 45 per cent since 2003.

According to a U.S. State Department report, the number of new international parental child abduction cases in the United States alone has doubled since 2006, from 642 to 1,135, with the majority of cases involving children taken to one of the convention’s 89 signatory countries.

But the child return rate is far from satisfactory. In 2009, the report said, only 436 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in other countries were returned to the U.S. Of these children, 324, or 74 per cent, were from a convention country.

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“The goal of the convention is to establish clearly defined procedures for the prompt return of children . . . to provide an effective deterrent to parents who contemplate abducting their children,” said the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention.

“Unfortunately, current trends reflect a steady increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases and highlight the urgency of redoubling efforts to promote compliance with convention obligation and encourage additional nations to join it.”

A left-behind parent can apply through what’s known as the central authority of his or her country to have a wrongfully removed child returned to the place of “habitual residence.”

The parent must provide details of the case in the Hague Convention application, which will then be sent by the central authority to the foreign state to which the child was taken.

Once the application is received, the court in the receiving country must determine if the conditions set out for the child’s return are met and if any exceptions to the return of the child exist.

Canada does not maintain national statistics on the number of Hague Convention applications and number of child returns to the country, said Carole Saindon, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which oversees the central authority administration in Canada.

“It is important to note that a decision by a court not to order the return of a child does not mean that the convention is not being properly applied in that state,” Saindon said in an email.

“While a left-behind parent may not agree with the child leaving Canada, the situation does not necessarily constitute a wrongful removal or retention for the purposes of the Hague Convention.”

In instances where a left-behind parent is dissatisfied with the result, she said, the parent or the Canadian central authority can raise their concerns with the foreign central authority and attempt to resolve any issues.

However, “where a left-behind parent disagrees with the decision of a foreign court not to return his or her child, he or she needs to evaluate the matter in consultation with private legal counsel,” Saindon said.

The issue of international child abduction is not new, but it received global attention in 2008 with the case of Sean Goldman, the child at the centre of an international legal battle between his American father, David Goldman, and the family of his deceased Brazilian ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro.

After winning his son back in 2009 with a favourable decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court, Sean’s father and his supporters, in the same year, established the Bring Sean Home Foundation, run by volunteers for the campaign to return internationally abducted children.

Most significantly, the foundation has been pushing for the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act (HR1940) — an inspiration for Watkins, whose sons, Christopher and Alexander, were taken to Poland in 2009 by their mother, Ustaszewski’s daughter, Edyta.

“The biggest reason the convention is largely inefficient is there are no penalties for non-compliance. There are no repercussions for not complying,” said Mark DeAngelis, the foundation’s executive director.

The bill, expected to be introduced to the U.S. Congress in 2013, proposes establishing an Office on International Child Abductions to promote measures to prevent abductions from the U.S., advocate for abducted children and assist left-behind parents in resolving their cases.

Watkins, of iCHAPEAU, said Canada should adopt a similar approach and penalize convention non-compliant nations by delaying or cancelling official visits and scientific and cultural exchanges; withdrawing Canadian development assistance; and restricting travel by their nationals.

“We need to impose sanctions against non-compliant countries,” said Watkins, adding that educating Canadian officials in child welfare and courts to flag at-risk cases is also key to abduction prevention.

Jeffery Morehouse of Bring Abducted Children Home, an advocacy group for American left-behind parents, agrees.

“We need to have an open public discussion of what’s going on,” he said from Washington. “We must step up and be vocal. Enough is enough. We are not going to condone the trafficking of children to a foreign country without recourse.”

More: The tales of four left-behind Canadian parents

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Parental Child Abduction – Organisations for Left Behind Parents


February 24, 2013

By Martin Waage, ABP World Group Ltd.

happychild

Knowledge and support is needed when the other parent abducts your child/children. There are many organisations run by parents of abducted children, that can provide assistance and counselling and give answers on what to do in the critical first hours, days and weeks. They will also be able to help you find a experienced lawyer that specialises in International Child Abduction Cases.

This is a few of them:

Bachome ( United States)

Reunite ( United Kingdom)

CRN Japan ( United States)

Bring Sean Home Foundation ( United States)

Bortført.no ( Norway) 

Bortført ( Denmark)

Australians With Abducted Children ( Australia)

iCHAPEAU Association ( Canada)

SBN Saknade Barns Närverk ( Sweden)

Please let us know, if there are other organisations you think should be on this list.

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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

German Phone Number: 069 2547 2471

Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +44 20 3239 0013

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Middle East / Lebanon: Experts urge state to curb Parental child abduction


Source: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: The government was urged Monday to sign up to an international agreement that would help reduce the rate of child abduction in Lebanon.

Experts from several countries gathered to discuss The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of which Lebanon is not a signatory, and measures to combat what is a growing trend of missions relocated against their will.

“Our biggest problems come with non-signatories of The Hague convention,” said Allison Shalaby, the acting director of British anti-abduction charity Reunite. “The more awareness we can raise the more we can reduce the number of abductions.”

Shalaby, whose own daughter was abducted to Egypt, said that a large proportion of abductions were committed by parents who are unaware such action is illegal.

“A lot of parents don’t realize that they can actually abduct their own children,” she said.

Statistics collected by Reunite suggest that 70 percent of abductions are undertaken by mothers. Shalaby said that her organization had seen a 45 percent annual rise in reported cases.

British Ambassador Tom Fletcher, whose mission helped to organize the conference alongside the U.K.’s Foreign Office, said diplomats were increasingly finding themselves dealing with abduction cases.

“These are always complex, traumatic and sad,” he told The Daily Star. “There are never any winners. We wanted to explore how we can protect the children involved more effectively. This conference attempts to do that, for the first time bringing together embassy staff from across the world, with governments and relevant NGOs.”

He urged all countries to sign up to The Hague Convention, which protects children from abduction.

“We find that Lebanese authorities are usually keen to help resolve tricky cases. [The convention] gives us a better framework for dealing with cases of this sort.

“We should remember that these cases are not one-way – we are also trying to combat child abduction from the region to the West,” Fletcher said.

Personal status disputes in Lebanon are decided through religious courts and often favor the side of fathers.

The judiciary does not consider international parental kidnapping as a crime and it is permitted to prevent family members from leaving the country, even if they hold dual nationality.

A clutch of Western countries already alert foreigners to the risk of child abduction in Lebanon.

“Lebanese family law is very different from U.K. law and particular caution is needed if child custody is [or becomes] an issue,” Britain’s Lebanon travel advice states.

Australia’s Foreign Office warns dual nationality parents it is powerless to intervene in abduction cases committed in Lebanon.

“Australians [including mothers with children] have been prevented from leaving Lebanon when relatives have legally placed border alerts [known as ‘stop orders’] on them,” it says. “The Australian Government cannot prevent or overturn the issue of a ‘stop order’ on an Australian citizen.”

With a large expatriate population in Lebanon, Australia is no stranger to the idea of child abduction involving Lebanese victims.

Earlier this month, Melbourne’s Herald Sun reported that more than 100 Lebanese minors had been transferred to Australia on marriage visas, requiring them to marry their sponsors within nine months of arrival.

“In one case, Lebanese [teen] sought protection after she arrived on a prospective spouse visa for an arranged marriage to a man decades her senior,” the paper reported.

“She found he was a violent drunk who kept a previous wife and three children in an adjoining townhouse. She was granted a protection visa after her own family threatened to kill her.”

Lebanese lawyers Ibrahim Traboulsi, Laura Sfeir and Shawkat Howeilla offered advice to conference participants on the views various religious courts had on child abduction. Representatives of General Security were also present at the event, the first of its kind in the region.

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