It’s parental kidnapping season


Holiday season signals an increase in cases of child abduction

 

Incidents of international parental child abduction – where a child is taken overseas without the other parent’s consent or contrary to a court order – are expected to peak over the summer, according to the FCO’s Child Abduction Section.

In many cases, parents pretend they are going on holiday with their child to their country of origin and then fail to return.

Worryingly, it is also common for parents not to realise that they have committed a child abduction offence. Research recently commissioned by the FCO* showed that a third of people didn’t know that if you take your child abroad without the permission of the other parent, this may be considered abduction under UK law.

“International parental child abduction, whether intentional or not, can cause huge distress to families.

“If a parent wishes to take their child to live in a new country they will normally need either the permission of the other parent or the British courts. Cases of parental child abduction increase in the summer holiday period. We urge parents who are worried to get specialist legal advice and contact our Child Abduction Section and the charity Reunite which can provide them with information to try to prevent an abduction from happening in the first place, or to try to resolve disputes if a child has already been taken overseas.

“We also see cases where British nationals simply return to the UK with their child after their relationship breaks down whilst living abroad – this is still likely to be considered abduction. A parent will normally require the consent of the other parent and possibly permission from the courts of the country concerned. It is important that a parent obtains legal advice before taking any action.”

If you are worried that your child may be abducted overseas you should:

  • Seek advice from a  family lawyer and  request a Prohibited Steps Order (or equivalent depending on where you  live in the UK) prohibiting your child from being taken out of the UK
  • In the event of an imminent abduction (in the next 24-48 hours), contact the police who may be able to issue an All Ports Alert to try to prevent a child from leaving the UK.  The police in England and Wales do not need a court order before instituting a port alert.  Police in Scotland do need a court order.
  • Ensure that you keep their child’s passport in a safe place and contact the Identity and Passport Service (and relevant local embassy if your child has dual nationality) to request that another passport is not issued without your permission

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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

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Abducted children not priority, fathers say – Canadian police and courts called ineffective


Source: CBC News

Two Canadian fathers whose children were allegedly abducted by their mothers and taken to European countries say authorities have done little to try to enforce court orders and bring them back.

Calum Hughes breaks down when he talks about how he misses his little girl, who he has not seen since 2009. (CBC)

“I’m holding my hands up going, ‘Can somebody please do something about this?'” said Calum Hughes, whose five-year-old daughter Livia was allegedly abducted by her mother from B.C. and taken to Italy in 2009.

“Somebody is not doing their job behind a desk,” said Gary Mezo, from Thunder Bay, Ont. His two-year-old son Gary Jr. has been in Hungary for a year. Court records confirm his mother took him there without his father’s permission.

“I believe Canada has to put its foot down — finally — and do whatever is written in law what has been ordered in court.”

There is a two-year-old Canada-wide warrant for the arrest of Hughes’s ex-wife, Sibylla Verdi, for child abduction. He hasn’t seen Livia for 2½ years.

“It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep at night,” said Hughes, of Kelowna, B.C.

Fathers have legal custody

Hughes is a hospital administrator and Mezo a successful businessman. Both were granted sole custody of their children by Canadian courts, but they said those orders have proven meaningless.

“A Canadian Supreme Court full custody ruling has no teeth,” said Hughes. “There’s not a lot of consequence that I see for a parent to just pick up and leave.”

Mezo alleges his ex was planning to abduct his son for more than a year.

“Before my child left, I told the police several times, please do something,” he said.

He has an affidavit and emails from a boyfriend of his child’s mother, showing she planned to leave and then claim abuse.

“He felt so bad that he couldn’t live with himself. He said that he had to do something about it. He wants me to have my child back,” said Mezo.

The Missing Children Society of Canada said while it has seen a steady increase in calls about international parental abductions, there is effectively nothing in place that could have prevented the abductions.

Child’s rights ‘at risk’

“The child’s rights are at risk here,” said private investigator Ted Davis. “A woman or man who wants to take their child [outside Canada or the U.S.] can simply jump on a plane and leave.”

Davis said his office is working on 60 cases of international abductions from Canada, dating back six years.

The latest RCMP figures show there were 237 reports of parental abduction in Canada in 2009 and 41 per cent of the children were under the age of five.

More than half the cases were resolved or withdrawn within a day. RCMP spokesperson Julie Gagnon said she didn’t know how many of the remaining children were taken to other countries.

She said when there is a warrant, as in the Hughes case, the RCMP can ask Interpol to put a “red notice” in the system, so the alleged abductor could be arrested at any border crossing.

She said, depending on the country and the case, extradition can also be initiated.

Dads desperate

However, Hughes said he heard nothing from the RCMP after a charge was laid against his ex-wife two years ago.

“They have done nothing,” said Hughes. “What message are we sending to everybody out there? If you don’t get a court order that you like, take your kid and leave the country? You will suffer no consequence? Is the Canadian justice system OK with that?”

RCMP spokesperson Dan Moskaluk insisted the investigation is still active.

“Resources involved in advancing this case since 2009 has involved RCMP investigators from the Kelowna detachment to assistance from our international policing branch liaison officer in Italy,” Moskaluk said.

CBC News sent messages to Sibylla Verdi, but received no response.

Mezo said he tried to get Thunder Bay police to pursue abduction charges in his case, but the investigating officer told him she couldn’t get approval. He believes that is partly because his wife falsely alleged he was abusive.

“It boils down to one thing — no reasonable grounds to get a charge approved,” said Thunder Bay police spokesperson Chris Adams. “These cases are very problematic. We don’t have the authority to enforce custody in another country.”

“It’s a very expensive proposition to initiate extradition on an abduction charge,” said Davis. “It’s not a priority [to police]. They don’t like getting involved in family cases when it’s not a life-threatening situation.”

Davis said under the current system, where parents can make applications for the child’s return under the Hague Convention, it takes two to three years and several thousand dollars to get children back, and it can only be done with signatory countries.

System slow, expensive

“If there’s no one stirring the pot, then no one is working the case,” he said. “The system is effective, but slow and very, very expensive.”

Both fathers made Hague applications. Italy refused to send Livia home, though, because the court believed his Italian ex-wife’s assertion that Hughes was an unfit father, allegations that were rejected by a Canadian court.

“That’s all needless details and garbage,” said Hughes. “I’ve spent over a hundred thousand dollars and how many hours in court. I’ve ended up with nothing in terms of a relationship with my daughter. ”

Mezo’s application is stalled in the Hungarian court system, which has sympathized with the Hungarian-born mother of his son.

“The Hungarian court said that ‘well there is no warrant out for her. She didn’t do anything wrong in Canada. So therefore we take it all with a grain of salt whatever the judge ordered in Canada,'” said Mezo.

His son’s mother, Boglarka Balog, sent an email to CBC News, again claiming abuse.

“The [Hungarian] court will value the behaviour of Gary that was violent so much in Hungary too, not only in Canada,” she wrote.

“Countries protect their own,” said Davis. “The stumbling block in Hague cases is when the court [overseas] is convinced there’s risk to the child [if returned].”

Call for exit controls

Hughes and Mezo said Canada should put some type of exit control in place, to try to stop parents from leaving with children they don’t have custody of.

“I was devastated when I learned [Livia and her mother] were gone because I knew what that meant,” said Hughes. “If they had been stopped, this would have all been prevented.”

“It’s happening everywhere [in the world]. But nobody is doing anything about it. Somebody has to step up and put their foot down and say enough is enough,” said Mezo.

Airlines and governments advise travellers to have a consent letter from the other parent if they want to fly with a child alone, but that system is voluntary.

“It’s smoke and mirrors — and those letters can be forged,” said Davis, who agreed exit controls are needed. “We have a file cabinet full of international cases.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed airlines can do nothing to stop a parent from leaving with a child, even when they don’t have a letter.

“Since there’s no governmental requirement, the airlines have no legal mandate to be checking these,” said spokesperson Perry Flint, who added airlines could open themselves up to lawsuits if they refuse to let a paying passenger board.

A U.S. government agency recently proposed establishing a “no fly” list – for parents who the courts have ruled are likely to abduct their children.

CBC News asked several federal departments if something like that is being considered for Canada. Transport Canada said it is not, Foreign Affairs did not reply and Public Safety said that would not be its department.

Both fathers said their children have been let down by a system that is ineffective and hasn’t made children’s rights a priority.

“I’ve tried everything by the book,” said Hughes. “This [going public] is my last hope to ever see Livia.”

“I wouldn’t have imagined in my dreams that my country would let me down or let my son down,” said Mezo. “It’s hard to go to work and pay taxes … when this country is not backing you up.”

Read: International Parental Child Abduction: The Hague convention – Proved Useless 

Read: When the Hague Convention won`t help

And: The Hague Convention is not enough to recover your child

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

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

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

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

Christmas A Time of Parental Child Abduction Risk


Source: SOS Children’s Villages Canada

A European Union official has commented on the region’s work on international parental child abduction at the same time that security actors have warned parents to be vigilant about protecting their children over the holidays.

International child abduction is on an upward trend and the Christmas season is one of the higher-risk periods for parental abduction—particularly when it comes to multi-cultural relationships.

Yesterday, the European Union (EU) Commission Vice-President (Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship), Viviane Reding, made a statement on the issue in Strasbourg.

“Preventing child abduction is an essential part of the EU’s policy to promote the rights of the child. I welcome the initiative of the European Parliament Mediator for international parental child abduction,” she said.

Within the EU, the International Law Association (ILA) Regulation mandates courts within EU member states to not refuse an order to return a child to his or her state of origin, if within the EU.

While the laws do not prevent or solve all cases of international parental child abduction, disputes between EU member states are solved more efficiently and swiftly, Ms. Reding noted.

Among the improvements made to the legal system is the removal of the exequatur rule.  This has allowed for a shorter time period in which courts may recognize and enforce judgments made by another state.

In international cases related to child custody and parental abduction, the Hague Convention applies. All EU member states are state parties to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and more countries are gradually signing on.

The Convention aims to protect children from the harmful impacts of abduction and retention by providing a protocol for international cooperation for their return to their country of origin.

According to a press release circulated by PR Web, the ABP World Group (which is an international leader in security matters related to child and adult abduction recovery) is warning parents worried that the other parent may illegally leave the country with their child to use new technology, such as GPS tracking devices, to protect their children.

Martin Waage, Managing Director of ABP World Group, stated, “With international child abductions happening at a record pace, ABP World Group urges parents to take every precaution to protect their children from this horrible fate.”

“Tragically, the number of global parental abductions occurring is an unknown due to failures by governments to keep accurate data,” he added.

However, using the situation in the United States as “microcosm” for the rest of the world, there could be as many as 125,000 children illegally abducted between now and 2020. In Canada, these numbers alone could reach 12,000-15,000, based on current reported cases with a modest 20 per cent growth factor, said Mr. Waage.

While Canada is also a signatory to the Hague Convention, though many countries in the Middle East and Asia are not.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

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

Join the Facebook Group: International Parental Child Abduction

NOTE: We are always available, also during The Christmas holidays. Christmas is the high season for parental abductions.

U.S Phone Number: (646) 502-7443
UK Phone Number: 020 3239 0013 –
Or you can call our 24h Emergency phone number: +47 45504271