N.J. mom step closer to reunion after Obama signs law about international child abduction


August 9 , 2014

Source: nj.com

The last time Bindu Philips saw her twin boys was in 2012 when she traveled to India for a mediation hearing — but only for a few minutes. For nearly six years, she has been embroiled in an international custody battle with her now ex-husband over their boys, now 13.

15586571-large

Her ordeal could come to an end soon after President Obama signed into law Friday legislation that authorizes the State Department to take increasingly forceful measures against any country that does not help return an American child illegally held there.

“I’m longing to see my children,” the Plainsboro mom, 43, said today. “I really hope I will be reunited with them soon.”

The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act is inspired by a Tinton Falls father whose son was kept in Brazil by his wife and her parents for more than five years.

7p1

“The Goldman Act works to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction, end the enormous pain and suffering endured by separated children and parents and force the federal government to act to bring abducted children home,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), who sponsored the bill. “Left-behind parents will now have tangible support and backing from their federal government.”

Philips’ ex-husband, Sunil Jacob, took the family on a sudden vacation to India in December 2008. He separated the children from her and kept them from seeing her parents. After three weeks, he enrolled them in a school without her knowledge. The principal let her talk with them twice a week, but when Jacob learned of this, he transferred them to another school.

She returned home to the U.S. after a few months and has continued to fight for them ever since. He denies her all contact; efforts to send them messages and motherly advice via a website were shut down by an Indian court order.

“The abductor plans everything so well that the left-behind parent really gets taken by surprise,” Philips said, who fears that Jacob has brainwashed her sons into thinking that she abandoned them. “They make the children turn against a parent who really loves them.”

The thought that she could finally be reunited with them gives her a renewed energy to face each day.

 

 

For more information, visit our web site: www.abpworld.com

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

profile pic.jpgdroppedImage_7TM

ABP World Group™ Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail 

Skype: abpworld

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

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.

A_Fathers_Love_Goldman

“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.

south_america

 

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.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Visit our website here: www.abpworld.com

profile pic.jpg

ABP World Group Risk Management

Contact us here: Mail 

Skype: abpworld

NOTE: We are always available 24/7

1-800-847-2315 US Toll free Number
0-808-189-0066 UK Toll Free Number
800-11-618        Norway Toll Free Number

Worldwide International Number: +31-208112223

Worldwide 24/7 Emergency Number: +34 633 374 629

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.
stephen_watkins.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo

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.

happy-children

“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

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

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

qrcode.11947504

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.

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

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

qrcode.11947504

Ireland / Malaysia – Mother’s fears over custody battle


Source: UTV News

A Co Tyrone mother whose child is trapped in an in international custody battle has told UTV she fears she will never see her son again.

Tracey McCay’s six-year-old son Sean was taken to Singapore last week by his father David.

The couple split acrimoniously while holidaying in Indonesia, but when Tracey returned to Singapore she realised the terms under which she had entered the country meant she had little or no parental rights.

See the Video here: UTV News

“I was in a foreign country. I had no friends, no family. I was really scared and I just felt I should have done my research,” she said.

“What people don’t realise is that obviously although you’re residents of a foreign country you’re not entitled to the same laws as what you’re used to back home.”

After a month battling her former partner, Tracey saw her son and she said her little boy was “confused and excited” at the same time.

“Once he saw me he just went ‘Mummy!’. He was just so excited to see me and I was so excited to see him and I just had to hold back tears,” she explained, “but it was just really nice and we just cuddled and kissed and just stuff like that, and he said ‘Mummy, I really miss you and where have you been?'”

“I’ve never been away from him for that long. I’ve always been with him and then Sean left and not knowing when I would see him again.”

Tracey began custody proceedings in Northern Ireland when she returned home and although Sean was in the region for Christmas he was taken away again by two police officers on Christmas Eve after the Lord Chief Justice ruled against Tracey because of the ongoing legal issues in Singapore.

She said it “broke [her] heart” when she had to give him back before Christmas Day.

“We kissed and we cuddled. It was just really, really nice. But when the police came I had to make it nice for Sean. I didn’t want him to be scared and when he was getting into the police car I was just saying goodbye to him and cuddling him.”

Although Sean has been taken back to Singapore by his father, Tracey said she will fight on for her rights as a mother.

“I have to go back to Singapore and fight in Singapore. And then I’ve been told by my lawyer in Singapore that I have to fight over here. So I’m left with no options at all where to fight.”

She told UTV her greatest fear is “that I’ll never see Sean again”.

The solicitor acting for Sean’s father, David McCay, issued a statement which reads:

“The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland returned the child to our client’s care and custody on Christmas Eve.

“As arranged our client and the child returned to Singapore on the 28th December. As the parents and child reside in Singapore, all issues we understand are being dealt with there.

“Our client strongly refutes any suggestion he has acted improperly.”

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

Irish mother faces International battle


Source: Strabane Chronicle

A STRABANE woman locked in a bitter international custody battle says she fears she may never see her son again.

Tracey McCay’s incredible story came to a head on Christmas Eve when a Belfast Court ordered her to hand her six-year-old son Sean over to her husband.
Husband David has since returned to their adopted home of Singapore with Sean, leaving Tracey practically penniless and homeless.
The 37-year-old told the Strabane Chronicle this week that she now fears she may never see her son again.
Tracey says her nightmare began ten weeks ago while she and her accountant husband David were holidaying in Indonesia.
Following a bust-up on the island of Batam, Tracey claims she awoke to find her husband had fled with her son, taking with him her passport and travel documents.

After contacting the immigration authorities, Tracey eventually managed to get back to Singapore where she contacted her solicitor.
Because she has only lived in Asia since May and her Visa rights depend heavily on her husband’s job, she was advised to return to Northern Ireland and fight for custody here.
On December 22 the estranged couple came face to face for a custody hearing in Belfast.
Tracey won her battle only to have it over-turned on appeal two days later.
On Christmas Eve she broke down in tears in court as Sean was taken from her and handed over to her husband. The father and son have since returned to Singapore.
Speaking from a women’s refuge in Belfast, Tracey appealed for help from anyone with knowledge of international law.

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

Parental Child Abduction to Brazil – A Father`s Love


Source: USA Today For five long years, when friends and strangers pressed him for news about his son, Sean, David Goldman had precious little to offer.
Sean, who was abducted by his mother as a 4-year-old, remained in Brazil, and Goldman’s efforts to get him back — or even see him — were being thwarted at every turn.

Today, Goldman is brimming with updates. Sean, who turns 11 in a few weeks, is loving Little League, is doing well in the fifth grade, recently hooked an 8-pound trout, and, on a whim, had his mop of sandy hair buzzed short during a sleepover at a friend’s house — something he now regrets, incidentally, according to his dad.

After the extraordinary drama surrounding their protracted separation, Goldman, 44, of Tinton Falls, N.J., is relishing the ordinariness of their life together — whether it’s shooting hoops in the driveway, helping with homework, or having a little father-and-son chat about why dumping Goldfish crackers in a schoolmate’s chocolate milk isn’t such a hot idea.

“I’m just so, so thankful that we’re back together, and that he’s really thriving,” Goldman said during a recent interview. “He can be a 10-year-old boy again. It’s beautiful.”

More than 16 months have passed since their climactic Christmas Eve flight home from Rio de Janeiro. The two have used that time to “”heal, adjust and bond,” Goldman said.

The adjustment process has been smooth, he said. Sean still meets with a therapist, but to see Sean playing video games with his friends and interacting with his father, one could scarcely guess it’s the same boy who was at the center of a wrenching, international tug-of-war.

No longer a “dead man walking,” as he describes himself during his son’s absence, Goldman is back to work as a charter boat captain and doing modeling jobs again, and he’s in a close relationship with a woman he met whom he identifies only as “Wendy” while Sean was in Brazil.

Goldman has kept a low profile since his return with Sean. But with the recent publication of his book, A Father’s Love: One Man’s Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home (Viking, $26.95), he’s talking publicly again about his ordeal. Last night, he appeared on Dateline NBC, the same program that helped make him an international celebrity in 2008, four years into what until then had been a lonely, uphill battle to get his son back.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Bring Sean Home Foundation, a grassroots organization that rallied around his cause. The group focuses on raising awareness about the plight of some 3,000 other American children living abroad who have been abducted by a parent or relative. There are more than 60 such children still in Brazil, in defiance of U.S. and international law, Goldman said.

“We need to do something,” he said, pointing to federal legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., who was instrumental in securing Sean’s return, that calls for tougher penalties on noncompliant countries and a special ambassador-at-large to focus on abduction cases.

‘Where have you been?’

Goldman collaborated on A Father’s Love with author Ken Abraham. The first-person account fills in the intimate details of a storyline that’s broadly familiar to millions worldwide.

It begins with his seemingly idyllic marriage to a beautiful Brazilian fashion student named Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro in 1999. The couple, who met while Goldman was modeling in Milan, Italy, settled in Tinton Falls, N.J. Their first child, Sean, was born the following year. His birthday, May 25, would have ironic significance later, when Goldman learned that President Ronald Reagan had proclaimed that date in 1983 as National Missing Children’s Day.

The couple appeared to enjoy a happy life together. They socialized often with Bruna’s parents, Raimundo and Silvana Ribeiro, who purchased a vacation condominium nearby.

On June 16, 2004, everything changed. That was the day Goldman drove his wife and son to Newark Liberty International Airport and waved good-bye to his family as they boarded a flight to Brazil for what he thought was a two-week vacation with relatives and friends.

A few days later, Goldman says, Bruna called to say she was filing for a divorce in Brazil and warned him that if he didn’t agree to her terms immediately, he’d never see his son again.

What followed was an agonizing, five-year battle with a confounding Brazilian legal system that refused to acknowledge the illegality of Sean’s abduction, or recognize Goldman’s parental rights. Even after Bruna’s death in 2008 from complications during childbirth, Brazilian courts allowed Sean to remain in the custody of his maternal grandparents and the man Bruna had remarried, attorney Joo Paulo Lins e Silva, who is from one of Brazil’s most politically influential families and the son of an authority on international parental child abduction law.

It wasn’t until Feb. 9, 2009, that a judge finally agreed to let Goldman visit his son. By that time, Goldman had made fruitless trips to Brazil, and had had countless cards and phone calls to Sean turned aside by the Ribeiro and Lins e Silva families. He had also garnered the support of several key allies, including Smith, who accompanied him to Brazil numerous times, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, who would later hold up a multibillion-dollar trade bill to turn up the heat on the Brazilian government, and a former assistant U.S. secretary of state named Bernard Aronson, who worked to lobbySecretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama to take an active role in the case.

Sean knew none of this, Goldman said. Instead, he said, he was told by those he loved and trusted that his father was a deadbeat who wanted nothing to do with him.

Every day a ‘miracle’

Goldman said he’d prefer that Sean not read the book until he’s older, though they’ve talked about what happened in Brazil.

“When he came back, he had been told horrible things about us. That was a big conflict for him,” Goldman said. “He saw that we didn’t live in a shack, that our country wasn’t a horrible place.”

One aspect of Goldman’s ordeal that may be a surprise is that it’s not completely over.

Raimundo Ribeiro, Sean’s maternal grandfather, died in March, but both his wife, Silvana, and Lins e Silva have continued to file motions in Brazil to overturn the ruling by the country’s top court that ultimately returned Sean to his father. Ribeiro is also pressing for unrestricted visitation rights in New Jersey.

While Goldman is slowly paying off a legal tab of more than $700,000, the meter is still running. He hopes that sales of his book will reduce the debt.

Whatever the cost, though, Goldman considers it a small price to pay to have his son with him again. After everything he and Sean have had to endure, each day feels like a “miracle,” he said.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Resolution Condemning Japan for International Child Abduction


111th CONGRESS, 2d Session, H. RES. 1326

Calling on the Government of Japan to immediately address the growing problem of abduction to and retention of United States citizen minor children in Japan, to work closely with the Government of the United States to return these children to their custodial parent or to the original jurisdiction for a custody determination in the United States, to provide left-behind parents immediate access to their children, and to adopt without delay the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

RESOLUTION

Calling on the Government of Japan to immediately address the growing problem of abduction to and retention of United States citizen minor children in Japan, to work closely with the Government of the United States to return these children to their custodial parent or to the original jurisdiction for a custody determination in the United States, to provide left-behind parents immediate access to their children, and to adopt without delay the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Whereas Japan is an important partner with the United States and shares interests in the areas of economy, defense, the promotion of global peace and prosperity, and the mutual protection of the human rights of the two nations’ respective citizens in the increasingly integrated global society;

Whereas the Government of Japan acceded to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states under Article 16 (1), `Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution’, and Article 16 (3), `The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’;

Whereas the Government of Japan acceded in 1979 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that states `States Parties to the present Covenant shall take appropriate steps to ensure equality of rights and responsibilities of spouses as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. In the case of dissolution, provision shall be made for the necessary protection of any children [Article 23]’;

Whereas according to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 44,701 marriages between a Japanese national and a foreigner were registered in Japan in 2006, and 17,102 divorces were registered in Japan in 2006 between a Japanese national and foreigner;

Whereas since 1994 the Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) at the United States Department of State had opened 194 cases involving 269 United States citizen minor children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan, and as of March 25, 2010, OCI had 85 open cases involving 121 United States citizen minor children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan;

Whereas since the signing of the Treaty of Peace with Japan (San Francisco Treaty) between the Allied Powers and the Government of Japan in 1951, the Japanese Government has never issued and enforced a legal decision to return a single abducted child to the United States;

Whereas Japan has not acceded to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention), resulting in the continued absence of an immediate civil remedy that as a matter of urgency would enable the expedited return of abducted children to their custodial parent in the United States where appropriate, or otherwise immediately allow access to their United States parent;

Whereas the Government of Japan is the only G-7 country that has not acceded to the Hague Convention;

Whereas the Hague Convention would not apply to abductions occurring before the accession of Japan to the Hague Convention, requiring, therefore, that Japan create a separate parallel process to resolve the abductions of all United States citizen minor children who currently remain wrongfully removed to or retained in Japan, including the 121 United States citizen minor children who have been reported to the United States Department of State and who are being held in Japan against the wishes of their parent in the United States and, in many cases, in direct violation of a valid United States court order;

Whereas the Hague Convention provides enumerated defenses designed to provide protection to children alleged to be subjected to physical or psychological abuse in the left-behind country;

Whereas United States laws against domestic violence extend protection and redress to Japanese spouses;

Whereas there are numerous acknowledged cases, such as the Jade and Michael Elias case, of Japanese consulates located within the United States issuing or reissuing travel documents of dual-national minor children in violation of United States court orders restricting travel and in violation of United States Federal criminal parental kidnapping statutes;

Whereas there are numerous cases in which the actions of the Government of Japan evidence a disregard of United States law and jurisdiction, other cases show indifference to the United States and customary international jurisprudence in the area of family law, which overwhelmingly reflects the worldwide preference for the resolution of parenting disputes by negotiated joint custody;

Whereas Japan’s existing family law system does not recognize joint custody nor actively enforce parental access agreements for either its own nationals or foreigners, there is little hope for minor children to have contact with the noncustodial parent in violation of internationally recognized and protected rights;

Whereas there exists no due process within the Japanese family court system for the redress of such disputes, and the existing system has no recognized process to enforce a custody or parental access order from outside of Japan or within it, without the voluntary cooperation of the abducting parent or guardian;

Whereas the Government of Japan has repeatedly claimed to foreign governments that parental child abduction is not considered a crime in Japan despite the fact that Article 3 of the Japanese Penal Code does indeed make it a crime for a Japanese citizen to abduct a child and move the child across national borders, even if the child is moved to Japan;

Whereas the Government of Japan has refused to prosecute an abducting parent or relative criminally when that parent or relative abducts the child into Japan;

Whereas according to the United States Department of State’s April 2008 Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, abducted children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and have been found to experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt, and fearfulness, and as adults may struggle with identity issues, their own personal relationships, and parenting;

Whereas left-behind parents may encounter substantial psychological, emotional, and financial problems, and many may not have the financial resources to pursue civil or criminal remedies for the return of their children in foreign courts or political systems;

Whereas Erika Toland was abducted in 2003 from Negishi United States Navy Family housing in Yokohama to Tokyo, Japan, by her now deceased mother and is being held by her Japanese maternal grandmother, while being denied access to her father since 2004;

Whereas Melissa Braden was covertly abducted from her home in 2006 by her mother to Japan in violation of previous Los Angeles Superior Court orders giving both parents access to the child and prohibiting international travel (travel to Japan) with the child by either parent and has since been denied any contact with her father;

Whereas Kai Hachiya was abducted in 2006 to Japan by his father, who had been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have physically and mentally abused Kai’s mother who had been awarded sole custody in the State of Hawaii, and as a result, Kai has had limited contact with his mother;

Whereas Isaac and Rebecca Savoie were abducted in 2009 to Japan by their mother in violation of a Tennessee State court order of joint custody and Tennessee statutes, and have been denied any access or communication with their father, despite their father having been awarded sole custody of them by a United States court;

Whereas Karina Garcia was abducted to Japan in 2008 by her mother, who was ordered by the United States courts to return Karina to the care of her sole custodian father in the United States, but the order to return of the child has not been granted even though the sole custody order had been recognized by the Osaka High Court;

Whereas United States citizen minor children who have been abducted to Japan are being deprived of their United States heritage;

Whereas, on October 16, 2009, the Ambassadors to Japan of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all parties to the Hague Convention, called upon Japan to accede to the Hague Convention and meanwhile to identify and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to establish contact with them and to visit them;

Whereas, on January 30, 2010, the Ambassadors to Japan of Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Charges d’Affaires ad interim of Canada and Spain, and the Deputy Head of Mission of Italy, called on Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, submitted their concerns over the increase in international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting their nationals, and again urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention;

Whereas the Governments of the United States and the French Republic have recently established bilateral commissions with Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to share information on and seek resolution of outstanding Japanese parental child abduction cases;

Whereas the bilateral commission is limited by the fact that it does not currently include Japan’s Ministry of Justice, which has jurisdiction over family law;

Whereas Japan’s Justice Minister Keiko Chiba said upon her appointment that she is determined to show that Japan `is very proactive’ in adopting international protocols and conventions that are the `international standard’; and

Whereas it is critical for the Governments of the United States and Japan to work together to prevent future incidents of international parental child abduction to Japan, which damages children, families, and Japan’s national image with the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That–

(1) the House of Representatives–

(A) condemns the abduction and retention of all minor children being held in Japan away from their United States parents in violation of their human rights and United States and international law;

(B) calls on the Government of Japan to immediately facilitate the resolution of all abduction cases, to recognize United States court orders governing persons subject to jurisdiction in a United States court, and to make immediately possible access and communication for all children with their left-behind parents;

(C) calls on the Government of Japan to include Japan’s Ministry of Justice in work with the Government of the United States to facilitate the identification and location of all United States minor citizen children alleged to have been wrongfully removed to or retained in Japan and for the immediate establishment of a protocol for the resolution of existing cases of abduction, interference with parental access to children, and violations of United States court orders;

(D) calls on the Government of Japan to establish immediately a protocol and timetable to amend its Civil Code to allow for enforceable rights of parental access and communication between minor children and their divorced or separated parents including parents who are not Japanese citizens;

(E) calls on the Government of Japan to review and amend its consular procedures to ensure that travel documents for minor children are not issued in violation of United States court orders;

(F) calls on Japan to accede to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction without delay and to promptly establish judicial and enforcement procedures to facilitate credibly the immediate return of children to their habitual residence and to establish protocols for the organization of rights of international parental access; and

(G) calls on the President of the United States and the Secretary of State to seek immediately to identify credibly all United States citizen minor children who have been wrongfully removed to and who are retained currently in Japan and to raise the issue of abduction and wrongful retention of those United States citizen minor children in Japan with Japanese officials and domestic and international press; and

(2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should–

(A) recognize the issue of child abduction to and retention of United States citizen minor children in Japan as a central foreign policy issue of paramount importance to the United States within the context of its bilateral relationship with Japan;

(B) work with the Government of Japan to enact consular procedures and legal agreements to prevent parental abduction to and retention of United States citizen minor children in Japan;

(C) encourage the Government of Japan to adopt the policy of not issuing duplicate passports when a United States judge has restricted a child’s travel or ordered the surrender of passports and to otherwise require notarized signatures from both parents before issuing a passport to a child;
(D) review its advisory services made available to United States citizens from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and other government agencies to ensure that effective and timely assistance is given to United States citizens in preventing the incidence of wrongful retention or removal of minor children and acting to obtain the expeditious return of their children from Japan;
(E) review its advisory services made available to members of the United States Armed Forces, particularly those stationed in Japan by the Department of Defense and the United States Armed Forces, to ensure that effective and timely assistance is given to them, including providing legal assistance in preventing the incidence of wrongful retention or removal of minor children and acting to obtain the expeditious return of their dependent children from Japan at the conclusion of their tour of duty in Japan;
(F) call upon the Secretary of Defense to include the issues of child abduction and the protection of members of the United States Armed Forces and their families stationed abroad in any current or future status of forces agreement;
(G) call upon the Secretary of State to enact immediately a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Japan to establish a bilateral protocol with procedures to address immediately any parental child abduction or access issue reported to the United States Department of State; and

(H) urge the Department of State to include international child abduction and Japan’s actions regarding abductions as a human rights violation under its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Japan: The Black Hole of International Parental Child Abduction


 

Chasing Parents from all over the United States who have their children criminally abducted and detained in Japan have joined together under the banner of ‘Bring Abducted Children Home’ (www.bachome.org/events.htm) , in an effort to raise the public’s awareness on the growing cruelty directed at defenseless, innocent U.S. children-citizens victimized by the act of international parental child abduction. The group, which consists of nearly 50 Chasing Parents and their supporters have descended on Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers and government officials in order to press for the return of their children, while also intending several formal protests and awareness campaigns in order to educate the scores of visitors celebrating Japan’s culture.

The timing of their rally could not be better: this week, Washington celebrates the Cherry Blossom Festival, where over a million visitors are expected to visit the nation’s Capitol. One of these visitors expected to visit is Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Japan has never returned a child that has been internationally parentally kidnapped and illegally detained in their country in accordance to the laws of the child’s nation of habitual residency. According to various reports, it is estimated that there are over 1,300 children who had been criminally abducted from a foreign country and presently criminally detained in Japan. In addition, in the last decade alone there were 167 child abduction cases in Japan reported to the State Department involving 230 children. This, despite an assortment of U.S. court orders and demands for these children to be returned home.

Zero abducted children returned from Japan equates to this country becoming known as the ‘Black Hole of Abduction’, and a ‘Safe Harbor’ for parental child kidnappers.

Sadly, most American citizens and for that matter, most citizens of developed and progressive-leaning countries have no idea that Japan is a safe-harbor for child abductors, none of whom face prosecution or extradition in Japan. And why would the public not know this? Isn’t Japan one of the United States’ strongest strategic partners and allies? On the surface, the answer to this question is ‘yes’. But how can a strategic partner allow for criminally abducted children to remain in their country and under the guidance and care no less, of the abducting parent?

Culturally, Japan’s courts allow for only one parent to have access and custody of a child during divorce proceedings. Tragically for the child and the child not selected to be with their own child by the court, contact and communication is frowned upon and not approved. This approach is far different than the West, where research and common sense demonstrate that a child is best served by knowing the love of both parents.

For example, the case of Navy Commander Paul Toland and his daughter Erika’s plight provides one microcosm that there is more to Japan’s refusal to comply than what is commonly referred to as ‘cultural differences in law’. In Commander Toland’s case, his daughter Erika was abducted by the child’s US Citizen mother while he was assigned in Japan on military duty. Shortly after, the mother died, and the grandmother took possession of Erika where she remains until this day, held captive in a country that has never returned a child. The US State Department tried to intervene and asked to visit Erika to check on her welfare and well-being, but the grandmother denied their request. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked to visit Erika to check on her welfare and well-being, but again, the grandmother denied their request. In the Japanese system, where no enforcement mechanisms exist and compliance is completely voluntary, all any government agency can say is “We’re sorry, we tried.” Nobody can offer any remedies or solutions, because none exist. Commander Toland, who is Erika’s sole legal custodian under Maryland State Law, remains with absolutely no access to his daughter. Erika has been gone now for nearly seven years. Her father Paul loves her with all of his heart.

Commander Toland commented, “I never dreamed that serving my country overseas in one of our allied nations would result in the loss of my only child. Japan is supposedly an ally of the United States, so why does the United States continue to tolerate this behavior from Japan? How can a nation that we call an ally be guilty of such despicable human rights violations and get away with it? Our children are all we have, and every civilized society has the responsibility to ensure that their most vulnerable citizens, their children, have the opportunity to know and love their parents..”

In another case that cuts through the chatter of cultural issues is the case of Captain William Lake. In Captain Lake’s case, his former spouse, who is not a Japanese citizen, abducted his daughter Mary Victoria to Japan despite an array of court orders. The abducting parent has no national ties to Japan; however, for nearly five years Japan has provided a safe harbor for the abducting parent despite having no connection to Japan. Mary Victoria will be 13 this Sunday. Her father William loves her greatly.

Christopher Savoie, who drew international media attention to the Japanese government’s complicity with child kidnappers when he was wrongfully detained by Japanese police last year while attempting to retrieve his two kidnapped children stated, “I am glad that the tide is turning and that this extremely shameful aspect of Japanese culture is being exposed for what it is. People are starting to realize all of the previously closely guarded dirty secrets of Japanese society such as the popularity and legality in Japan of child pornography, legal “consensual” sex with 13 year-old children, cover-ups about killer vehicles, the ruthless killing of dolphins and the most disgusting secret of all– that Japan officially and shamelessly supports and even assists in the kidnapping of innocent kids from countries that are supposedly their ‘allies’.”

Read more here: http://bignews.biz/?id=858756&pg=3&keys=Child-Japan-abduction-Parental

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

 

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

International Parental Child Abduction: A Silent Epidemic of Kidnapping


Written By: Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Ann Vlk

It is believed that United States children-citizens are being criminally abducted, illegally removed overseas, and wrongfully detained in foreign countries in shocking and seemingly advancing and unprecedented numbers. This despite U.S. court orders prohibiting their removal and/or demanding for their immediate return.

Remarkably, the necessary data required to accurately measure the total number of international parental child abductions (IPCA) does not exist due to the inability to measure what is believed to be a large number of ‘unreported’ cases, which is discussed in this report later on. Therefore due to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases, much of what has been previously reported in government and reputable organizations’ studies or statements should be considered as speculation due in part to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases, as well as forecasted numbers derived from immeasurable and highly questionable determining methodologies. The only measureable statistics are the number of cases reported to law enforcement and to The Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI).

The content of this report includes statistics from the most current published annual report   dated April of 2009 and titled the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The 2010 annual compliance report is expected to be delivered to Congress in the coming days and will be publically available in the near future; however, we anticipate that the current trends previously seen with respect to the increase in international parental child abductions will remain.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the writer of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act, explains, ”In response to a mandate of the 1984 Missing Children Act, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJPD) publishes periodic studies titled the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The NISMART publications are meant to identify the numbers of children who are reported missing and the number of children recovered in a particular year. These bulletins consist of comprehensive studies with an emphasis on examining trends in the incidence of missing children.”

The NISMART I study (utilizing data from 1988 and published in 1990) reported that there were an estimated 354,100 family abductions annually. In order to derive data for that study in regards to the number of children that are victims of a family abduction each year a household telephone survey was conducted. The survey included a total of 10,367 interviews with adult caretakers. The Population Estimates Program of the Population Division U.S. Census Bureau estimated the U.S. population at 244,498,982 in 1988. To clarify, a sampling of telephone interviews from 0.0000413% of the U.S. population was utilized to provide the statistical data that is widely accepted as being an accurate accounting of the numbers of annual family abductions.

The NISMART – 2 study, which utilized data from 1999 and was published in 2002, reported that there were 203,900 family abductions annually. This study also utilized a household telephone survey and completed interviews with 16,111 adult caretakers. Additionally, this study surveyed 5,015 youth ages 10-18 who lived in the sample households. During the study year the estimated U.S. population was 272,690,813, thus reflecting completed interviews of 0.000059% of the U.S. adult population.  Once again, a small fraction of the U.S. population was interviewed as the only method of determining the annual numbers of family abductions. Critically, and troublesome is the fact that the NISMART studies did not derive any of the data relating to family abductions from law enforcement or other governmental agencies. Data was entirely compiled from random computer-assisted telephone interviewing methodology. Neither study conducted a second survey.

Now consider that an assortment of generally accepted reports or statements from leading authorities including The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). On April 22, 2002 NCMEC stated in a press release the following, “In an effort to educate the public and to provide more services to victims, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has released a new publication entitled Family Abduction: Prevention and Response and has recently formed a group for adults who were victims of family abduction as children.  A commonly misunderstood and complex issue, best estimates indicate that there are 354,000 domestic and 16,000 international family abductions per year.”

We are unable to ascertain where NCMEC determined their 16,000 international child abductions per year. What we do know is that according to the Department of State, in several of their published statements, that there were approximately 16,000 international parental child abductions over a two-decade long period. What these inconsistencies demonstrate is a lack of data. Unknown is whether the NCMEC statement included an estimate of ‘unreported’ cases or perhaps was an error as the same ‘16,000’ yearly number is identical to the Department of State’s ’16,000’ two decade number.

Peter Thomas Senese is the author of the upcoming book titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ which critics have praised as an extraordinary story on international parental child abduction, love, and parenting. He stated, “Criminal parental cross-border abduction appears to be increasing in the United States and abroad at significant rates despite the fact that there is not enough accurate data required to establish growth trends in cross-border abductions. The rise of abduction in our country as well as that seen in other nations indicates that we have a global pandemic on our hands. And as more children from different nations are stolen and not returned, including our own children, citizens will inevitably voice their growing anger over the fact that their nation’s children-citizens have been abducted.  The stealing of children across international borders can, and very well will inevitably create grave challenges for all nations who sit at the world’s political and economic tables.”

This report will unequivocally demonstrate that new, carefully constructed research initiated by our government is immediately needed, and that the number of international parental child abductions is increasing despite efforts to stop this terrible act directed at our children-citizens.

Indisputable, are the actual number of ‘reported’ abduction cases. Estimating the incalculable total number of ‘unreported’ cases is difficult to assess. Despite this inability to concisely determine the total number of cases each year, it appears America and our nation’s children-citizens are plagued by a dangerous criminal epidemic known as ‘International Parental Child Abduction’ that is silently sweeping through our nation. At risk are tens if not hundreds of thousands of our defenseless children who are targeted for abduction each year.

In April of 2009, the annual Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was released.  In that publication, Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs writes, “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 obligations and encourage additional nations to join the Convention.” She also writes, “Very few options exist for parents and children who are victims of parental child abduction.”

This fact is evidenced by the statistical data contained within the 2009 report. Utilizing data that was collected during the period from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008 the report reflects that of the 1,082 new cases were reported involving 1,615 children. During the study year the U.S. was only successful in the return of 361 children. However, it is important to note that as time passes, it becomes substantially more difficult to recover an abducted child.

Peter Thomas Senese commented, “The anticipated number of international abductions used as a benchmark and often referred to is inconclusive because the published data does not take into consideration ‘unreported’ cases of international child abduction, population growth, increases in multi-cultural marriages, immigration migration increases to the United States, and economic difficulties many families are facing, which inevitably leads to a break-up of the family unit. More concerning is how the widely distributed and cited surveys used what I believe to be an inadequate number of telephone interviews and appear not to include any law enforcement records. In my view, we as a nation have a serious problem on our hands.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk stated, “Admittedly, something is seriously amiss in our ability to accurately estimate the number of children victimized by the crime of child abduction. In my opinion, utilizing only a random telephone survey, to determine the number of affected children is a process flawed by numerous, serious methodological problems. Additionally, the cooperation and compliance rate in obtaining the return of our citizen children who have been criminally internationally abducted must be drastically improved. The recovery of only 361 of these children during an entire fiscal year is not and should not be acceptable”.

Unfortunately, many internationally abducted children are never returned because their abductions are not reported to authorities. The likelihood is that the vast majority of these types of cases never end with a child’s return. It would be reasonable to conclude that if a targeted parent did not report their child’s abduction, then in all likelihood, that U.S. child-citizen will not be returned to the United States. Due to the number of ‘unreported’ international abduction cases, it is difficult to determine a reasonable return-rate percentage. We recognize the difficulty in attempting to accurately estimate the ‘unreported’ case numbers and believe that it is probable that the number of returns of ‘unreported’ cases is extremely low and essentially immeasurable.

Reasons for ‘unreported’ cases include the financial inability of a Chasing Parent to take legal action since they are responsible to pay for all costs associated with their child’s recovery – even though a child’s international abduction violates state and federal laws such as the International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act (IPKCA). Furthermore, many parents experience a sense of hopelessness that any recovery efforts will be futile since there are great difficulties associated with bringing a child home, including the possibility of first trying to determine where your child is. Also, the fact is that many nations are not a party of or do not uphold the Hague Convention. Furthermore, there exist substantial prejudices in foreign courts.

The NISMART I study reported that there were a total of 354,000 parental child abductions annually. The NISMART II study stated the total number of parental child abductions decreased to approximately 203,900 children. The truth of the matter is that we really do not know how accurate any of the data is or how large of a problem we actually have on our hands. What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of children are targeted for parental abduction each year, and out of this group, tens of thousands of these instances include planned international parental abductions.

According to leading experts who specialize in international parental child abduction, conclusive and unilateral opinion and fact demonstrates that parental child abduction of a targeted child is a cruel, criminal, and severe form of abuse and mistreatment regardless if the child is with one of their (abducting) parents. This includes the illegal act of international abduction, whereas, the child is unexpectedly uprooted from their home, their community, their immediate and extended family, and their country. Sadly, severe short and long-term psychological problems are prevalent for many abduction victims who survive their kidnapping experience. It is commonplace for a child to be emotionally sabotaged, whereas, the abducting parent will try to remove all bonds and attachments the child has with the other parent, thus, removing the child’s right to know the love of the other parent, and keep in tact their own identity. Too many children simply never come home and in certain cases a child’s abduction overseas has led to the death of the abducted child.

A leader in the field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article titled Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, “child stealing is child abuse.” According to Huntington, “in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.”

“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of “child abuse” reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains, “Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

Consider that today in Japan, there are approximately 230 American children-citizens who were illegally abducted from United States soil to Japan by one of their parents in violation of U.S. court orders. To date, and for what is believed to be nearly fifty years, Japan – America’s strong ally – has never returned 1 American child who was parentally kidnapped and illegally detained in accordance to United States law.  And tragically, the vast majority of the chasing parents left-behind in the wake of their child’s abduction are not permitted to have contact with their child.

“I’m the only living parent to my daughter Erika,” said U.S. Navy Commander Paul Toland, whose daughter Erika was abducted to Japan seven years ago, “my wife died and my daughter was subsequently kidnapped by her grandmother, yet I have absolutely no access to her. Both the State Department and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have asked to visit my daughter to check on her welfare, but the abductor said no. In the Japanese system, where no enforcement mechanisms exist and compliance is completely voluntary, all any government agency can say to me is ‘We’re sorry, we tried’. Nobody can offer any remedies or solutions, because none exist.”

At the time of Commander Toland’s child’s abduction, OCI did not include his case as an officially reported case since at the time, Commander Paul Toland, father of Ericka, was on active duty serving his country, and military personal cases were not counted as ‘reported’ cases. This has recently changed.

Welcome to the absurd world of international parental child abduction. The bizarreness of Commander Toland and his daughter’s dire odyssey into the world of the incomprehensible is the norm experienced by many chasing parents and their children, not the oddity.

There are abundant reasons why it is very difficult to have an illegally stolen child returned despite the United States being a signatory of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. They include, but are not limited to the following:

1.     Lack of action in reporting a child’s abduction by a targeted parent left behind; and,

2.     Many nations do not comply with or uphold the spirit of the convention (ex, Brazil, Mexico, Germany); and,

3.     Many countries have not signed the convention (ex. Japan, China, Russia, and many countries located in the Middle East); and,

4.     Chasing Parents may not have an idea what country their child was taken to; and,

5.     Chasing Parents are responsible to carry the enormous financial burden associated with their child’s recovery. Many simply do not have the substantial resources needed; and,

6.     Many Chasing Parents do not have the knowledge necessary to navigate the difficult and complex legal system of international law, nor do they often know who to turn to and what to do; and,

7.     Nationalistic prejudices of court systems located in the ‘inbound’ country, whereas, a court may try to protect the abducting parent if that parent is a citizen of the country where they abducted the child to; and,

8.     Cultural differences; and,

9.     A Chasing Parent’s fear to attempt to recover their child due to threats from the abducting parent or individuals associated with the abducting parent; and,

10.  Lack of cooperation from law enforcement; and,

11.  Limited power of the Office of Children’s Issues to intervene on behalf of a U.S. citizen.

According to statements issued by the Department of State, reported cases of international parental child abduction increased by 40% from 2007 to 2009, which appears to be similar to what other Hague Convention signatory nations have experienced. This represents a mean increase of 20% per year. The report for 2009 to 2010 will be issued on April 28th, 2010; however, the expected percentage increase in abductions is anticipated to be equivalent to, if not higher than the increases demonstrated during 2007-2009.

What is not known is whether the increase in ‘reported’ cases to the Department of State’s OCI is due to greater public awareness and proactivity amongst targeted parents, an actual increase in the number of international abductions, the extensive outreach made by OCI to let targeted parents know that OCI exists and can assist a Chasing Parent, or all of the above.

Peter Thomas Senese, who turned to OCI during his child’s abduction commented, “There never is a day that goes by that I am not appreciative and thankful for the assistance that was extended to me and my family by the Office of Children’s Issues during the time I was chasing the cyclones of international parental child abduction.  Unquestionably, it was through the assistance of some of the extraordinary, caring and concerned individuals from OCI who intervened on behalf of my child’s case that today my son lives a happy, peaceful, and secure existence. OCI had a giant impact on my case, and for the rest of my life, I will be forever thankful to some of that organization.”

The increase in reported cases by the Department of State only demonstrates abduction cases that are actually ‘reported’. Unfortunately, it is believed that many abduction cases are not reported due to multiple reasons. This includes fear from immigrant aliens living in the United States with either documented or undocumented status that they may be deported if they file a Hague Application with OCI seeking for the return of their abducted child. In these cases, OCI will always accept a request for assistance regardless if the parent is here legally or not since The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction does not say anything about citizenship status. And it has been OCI’s policy to never report an undocumented alien to the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Now consider the data contained in the most current Hague Compliance report indicating that the mean growth rate experienced between 2007-2009 was approximately 40% (an average of 20%).  If the rate continues at a mean of 20% over the next ten years and we factor in the 2009 reported case numbers, this forecasts that our nation will have at least 9,647 of our children-citizens criminally abducted overseas in the year 2020, and from 2008 through 2020, 52,466 of our nation’s children will have been internationally abducted.

Our position is that due to the existence of what we believe to be a significant and substantial number of ‘unreported’ cases combined with population growth and increases in documented and undocumented immigration migration, the rate of children abducted internationally will continue to rise at a rate of at least, if not substantially greater than 20% annually unless significant abduction prevention steps are immediately implemented.

Combining the projected increases of ‘reported’ cases with the immeasurable ‘unreported’ cases that is apparent and real based upon immigration migration and economic factors, it is reasonable to state that America and our children are facing a serious problem.

The absurdity of this all is so terrifying that you might be inclined and desirous to dismiss it, particularly when we consider the immeasurable number of cases presently classified as ‘unreported’ that may shift to the ‘reported’ category due to public awareness combined with OCI’s outreach efforts.

It is important to note that none of these figures include the large number of children who have previously been internationally abducted and presently remain illegally detained overseas.

Studies have demonstrated that an unprecedented number of abductions have occurred where one parent took unilateral action to deprive the other parent of contact with their child.  The majority of abducting parents will typically use the child as a tool to cause the targeted parent great pain and suffering.

Understandably, family abductions occur at a higher rate during times of heightened stress such as separation or divorce and often involve custody issues and visitation problems.  The sad fact is that a large number of marriages, estimated to be between 40% and 50%, in the U.S. end in divorce.

One of the many considerations that factor into the increase in total abductions indicates that economic difficulties in the United States and elsewhere are a measurable factor in the number of increases in separations and divorces. This added stress can lead to a parental cross-border abduction, particularly since we live in a global society, and the number of international relationships has increased dramatically.

While all children can be potential targets of a family abduction, the likelihood increases when that child has a parent with ties to a foreign country. According to the Juvenile and Family Court Journal Vol. 48, No. 2 titled Jurisdiction In Child Custody and Abduction Cases, “Parents who are citizens of another country (or who have dual citizenship with the U.S.) and also have strong ties to their extended family in their country of origin have long been recognized as abduction risks.” This increase in cultural diversity within the U.S. population has created challenges for our existing laws. Many U.S. born children-citizens fall victim to parental abduction when a parents’ union ends.

Across the U.S., states are struggling to address their archaic and outdated laws, and establish additional precautions to better protect their child-citizen population. Unquestionably, it is critical that child abduction prevention laws are passed in each state and upheld by the judiciary and law enforcement. Failure to do so will likely lead to the looming disaster that is already upon us.

Peter Thomas Senese stated, “As a nation, the United States must fight back this sweeping plague by passing child abduction prevention laws and by increasing our judiciary’s level of competency in overseeing and enforcing laws associated with these complex cases of potential or actual international parental child abductions.  Critical to judges and lawmakers’ ability to protect our children is the need for immediate research on this subject. The present available information is archaic, and more than likely inaccurate particularly due to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases. The community of child abduction prevention advocates has pointed this out for some time now. What we also need is for the creation and enforcement of well thought out and researched laws along with the upholding of the intent, spirit, and law of the international treaties such as The Hague Convention so we can protect our children and put an end to the spread of this malignant pandemic that has reached our shores.

Florida state representative Darryl Rouson is the lawmaker who championed and sponsored Florida’s landmark Child Abduction Prevention Act (HB 787). The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate and House of Representatives last week and is highly anticipated to become law within the coming days. Representative Rouson commented, “It is critical for each state to implement laws that will protect the rights of our children-citizens who may face parental child abduction. The misconception that when one parent steals a child from the other parent, that the child is safe, is undeniably inaccurate. It is through prevention laws such as Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act that we will be able to prevent this serious crime against our nation’s children from occurring.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the child abduction prevention advocate, commented, “Early on in my research on this critical issue I recognized the urgent need for preventative legislation. Thankfully, Florida’s legislative body wholeheartedly agreed as evidenced by the unanimous votes. I am thrilled for the added measure of safety this new law will have in protecting the children of my great state. However, I will not be satisfied until all states have child abduction prevention legislation enacted.”

One of the great concerns is the determining the actual number of annual child abductions. In the 2009 report approximately 1,082 outgoing cases were reported to OCI. However, we must also consider the number of cases that are unreported. This leads to several obvious questions including how accurate is the data that was compiled in the NISMART publications. Particularly when we consider the study was generated, concluded, and widely disseminated based upon completed adult surveys of approximately 10,367 households in 1988 and 16,111 in 1999. We must also ask ourselves why there appears to be a large number of unreported abduction cases? And why is the data so old and outdated, and how could our government allow for this to happen? Budget constraints aside, we’re talking about out nation’s children, aren’t we? Undeniably, we need to know what the real numbers are. And finally, what can OCI do to further assist targeted parents and their children who have not reported their cases?

In order to answer these questions, we must first look at the shift in our country’s population, and heavily weigh who we are – as a nation of immigrants.

A report compiled by the renowned Washington based Pew Hispanic Center reports that most immigrant groups are comprised of young families.  The likelihood that a child will be born while the parents are present in the U.S. is high.  Prior to 2007, data collected on parents of children under 18 only identified one parent, and a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent.  Currently, a second parent identifier is considered whether or not the parents are married to each other. The new data more accurately reflects the number of children living in the U.S. with at least one foreign born parent.

In 2008 that meant that 22% of all children in the United States had at least one foreign-born parent. In fact, consider the following statistics compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies in its March 2007 analysis. Immigrants and their U.S. born children under age 18, as a share of population: California – 37.9%, Los Angles County – 50%, New York State – 27.9%, New York City – 46.7% and Florida  – 27.9%.

It must be noted that although 31.3% of all immigrants originate from Mexico, other countries have significant entry numbers as well.  Included in the March 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) were statistics indicating that 17.6% of all immigrants were from East/Southeast Asia, 12.5% from Europe, 5.5% from South Asia, 3.5% from the Middle East, and Canada at 1.9%.

Traditionally, states such as California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Arizona have had large numbers of immigrants in their population. What is surprising is the trends in migration toward new centers of immigrant growth. The CPS prepared an analysis of states with statistically significant growth in immigrant population between 2000 and 2007. Most notably, Wyoming, which experienced a percentage increase of 180%, Tennessee at 160%, Georgia at 152.1%, and Alabama at 143.6%. The impact of unprecedented increases in immigrant migration is likely to create multiple challenges as states struggle to keep pace with their newest segment of population and their children.

“As a nation of immigrants, it is important to note that as our nation’s population increases due to immigrant migration, so too does the likelihood of increased cross-border child abduction,” Peter Thomas Senese added.

Additionally, it has been well established that illegal aliens do not respond to surveys such as the US Census or the CPS. Because the U.S. government does not have accurate records of arrival and departures for individuals present illegally in the country, their numbers must be estimated, as there is no hard data to draw from. However, indirect means for establishing these figures are used, and they must be viewed with a considerable amount of uncertainty. In 2007 CPS, it was estimated that of the approximately 37.9 million immigrants present in the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 immigrants were present illegally.

It is important to note this segment of our population when discussing child abduction because when a child is born in the U.S. that child automatically is a U.S. citizen. While the available data gives us fairly accurate figures regarding the number of children born in the U.S. as well as those immigrants who are present legally, a number is impossible to compile accurately in relation to the unauthorized resident population.

In regards to children born to illegal immigrants, in the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, that number rose from 2.7 million to 4 million.  The report published by the Pew Hispanic Centers reported that nationally the children of illegal immigrants now comprise 1 in 15 elementary and secondary students in the U.S.  Additionally, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas more than 1 in every 10 students in those states are the children of illegal immigrants.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the writer of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act stated, “The ability of state governments to prevent the abduction of children by family members could be drastically improved by comprehensive legislation.  While aiming to protect all children, special consideration must be given to those children who may be at increased risk simply by virtue of their parentage. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the U.S. projected up to April 22, 2010 estimated that one international migrant enters the U.S. every 36 seconds. International travel has become commonplace and as more cross-cultural relationships develop children are born.  A number of these relationships will end and may result in an increased risk of international abduction of the child. Attempting to retrieve a child who has been abducted and possibly hidden internationally is a near impossibility as a multitude of problems surface in cases such as these.  Unfortunately, studies have proved 4 of 5 Americans drastically underestimate the threat of a family abduction.  Statistically, it is a sobering thought when you become aware of the vast numbers of children that are criminally abducted each year.  Preventative laws are a necessity as an immediate remedy to this unconscionable crime.”

David Bokel of Lynchburg, Virginia was a targeted parent of international parental child abduction. On December 24th, 2003 his young daughter was parentally abducted and planned to be criminally removed from the country. Fortunately, Mr. Bokel was able to find and safely bring home his child. He commented, “International parental abduction, a form of child abuse, is seriously on the rise.  The laws in our country realistically permit an abducting parent who intends to carry out their planned kidnapping to essentially do so.  There are very few laws in place that prevent child abduction, and those that are in place are not enforced.  Immigrants who kidnap children should be removed from the country.  My daughter’s abductor, after receiving a two-year federal prison sentence for her crimes, received her green card so she can legally stay in the United States.”

The Office of Children’s Issues at the Department of State was established to assist parents whose children have been unlawfully removed from the country.  The OCI assists the remaining parent and strives to protect those children who have been victimized in these types of cases.  Considering thousands of child custody cases are fought across national borders each year, the assistance of the OCI can be invaluable. Litigating custody, especially across international borders where conflicting orders may exist can be difficult if not impossible.  The OCI aims to assist in these cases by enhancing an understanding of the many complex laws, both domestic and international that may be applicable to a particular case.

However, OCI has significant limitations, including the fact that they cannot represent your abducted child in a foreign court. OCI does provide a list of lawyers in foreign countries who at times have worked pro bono on abduction cases. However, there are no obligations by any of these lawyers to take a case, and it is up to each Chasing Parent to work out all arrangements. The reality is that ‘pro bono’ sounds like a nice idea, but it is an unrealistic expectation.

Immediate suggestions that could allow the dedicated staff at OCI to be more helpful include the following:

1. Creating and distributing useful, concise information for chasing parents, law enforcement, and court personnel regarding all areas of IPCA. The use of digital media combined and supported by printed content is critical.

2. The development of an independent website outside of the Department of State’s website. This website must be easy to navigate, include audio and digital feeds, and must be accessible to individuals in various languages.

3. OCI must actively support advocates and lawmakers who are seeking to pass child abduction prevention laws. Support by OCI in this area can increase the visibility of the issues of child abduction while also increasing lawmaker and judiciary awareness.

4. Dissemination of information on the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.

5. Dissemination of information on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’, and dedicated resources established to assist lawyers and Chasing Parents seeking assistance under this program.

6. Increases in outreach toward documented and un-documented aliens about OCI, and the rights of their U.S. child-citizen.

7. Increase in personnel to support the tremendous workload of the OCI staff.

Peter Thomas Senese, who produced and narrated the important documentary film on international parental child abduction titled, Chasing Parents: Racing Into the Storms of International Parental Child Abduction added, “One child criminally abducted and illegally detained overseas is one child too many. However, we are not referring to one child. We are referring to hundreds of thousands of our nation’s child-citizens who are at risk of abduction.

“Unfortunately, due to outdated data and research, we really do not know how large of a problem we have on our hands, but I suspect it is much greater than we know or want to accept. One thing that is common amongst the vast majority of Chasing Parents is that none of us expected to have our child or children stolen. It realistically can happen to a very large portion of our population. I hope that all concerned citizens will contact their Senators and Representatives and urge them to support and sign the International Child Abduction Prevention Act known in Washington as HR3240. This bill is critical. And I want to repeat that most targeted parents who had their child criminally abducted never saw it coming. Due to the demographic composition of our nation, few parents and their children are immune to this threatening plague.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk concluded early on in my child abduction prevention advocacy I was asked, “Where is the public outcry?”  My response at that time was that if you are a parent attempting to prevent your child from a criminal abduction you are focused on that issue.  If tragically your child has already been abducted, then you are devastated and grieving.  I am happy to report that through my volunteerism in this area, I have had the great honor of getting to know some extraordinary parents.  The days of quiet acceptance of this crime are over.  Parents are uniting together all over the U.S. to ensure that their voices are finally heard and demanding that their children no longer be marginalized and that they be protected.  Preventative laws can and will help curb the unacceptable numbers of abductions from occurring. My heart breaks for those children who remain criminally detained in foreign nations and their grieving and left behind families.  It is my greatest hope that through bringing this hideous crime to the forefront of the public’s attention that it will someday be possible to reunite these children and their families.”

Speaking on the crisis of IPCA, author Peter Thomas Senese said, “With limited accurate data, an uneducated judiciary, an uninformed public, difficulties in passing child abduction prevention legislation, non-compliance of international treaties, and heavy financial burdens placed on Chasing Parents desperately trying to protect their kidnapped children, this really is the world turned upside-down, and it is going to get much worse for our children and their parents unless dramatic steps in all areas are immediately implemented.”

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook