Goldman Act bolsters fight for return of abducted children


August 5, 2014

Source: The Hub

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Capt. Paul Toland (from left), whose daughter was kidnapped in Japan; Bindu Philips, of Plainsboro, whose two sons were abducted to India; and David Goldman, whose son was abducted to Brazil and returned after a five-year ordeal, joined Rep. Chris Smith in calling for passage of the Goldman Act to help families who have been victimized by international abductions.

A bill empowering the U.S. State Department to aggressively pursue the return of internationally abducted children is headed to the president’s desk after being approved by Congress.

The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, the fourth bill of its kind introduced by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4), was drafted after Smith became involved with David Goldman’s fight to be reunited with his son, Sean.

According to Jeff Sagnip, the congressman’s press secretary, Goldman’s wife absconded with Sean from the family’s Tinton Falls home in June 2004, bringing him to Brazil when he was 4 years old without seeking custody of Sean or legally divorcing Goldman in a U.S. court.

A_Fathers_Love_Goldman

She subsequently died in childbirth, Sagnip said, and the Brazilian government held that her partner at the time of her death should maintain custody of Sean.

Brazil is a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but chose to ignore the policies outlined by the international agreement, Sagnip said.

“Previously, the State Department would say ‘… There’s nothing that we can do,” Sagnip said. “[For a parent] trying to get a foreign court to award custody, it’s very difficult and returns are rare.”

The Sean and David Goldman Act (H.R. 3212) would allow U.S. embassies to apply pressure in incremental phases to dissuade governments from ignoring international law and sheltering abductors.

“[This bill] provides a series of tools which vary in their severity, from mild to strong,” Sagnip said. “The State Department is able to start with a little pressure and then build the pressure [on foreign governments refusing to return abducted American children to their homes.]”

Those tools include a private diplomatic protest called a demarche, a public condemnation of the foreign government, the withholding of economic aid and, eventually, demands for the extradition of the abductor.

Goldman, who was reunited with his son after five years of heavy investment both financial and emotional, said the passage of the bill provides hope for parents facing the same struggle he did.

“It was a long road, nearly five years, thanks to a tremendous effort of Congressman Smith and his staff,” Goldman said. “It was a great thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It’s another step closer to reuniting families. Next step: the White House.”

For victims of international child abduction and their parents, Smith said the Sean and David Goldman Act represents a shift in U.S. policy that will benefit separated family members.

Parental_Abduction_Warning_Signs

“Many children and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S. and international law,” Smith said. “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time that they can never get back. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fight to recover their children.”

According to Sagnip, the bill allows the State Department to use the leverage already at its disposal in international abduction cases — leverage that is invaluable to an individual parent who only has so many resources to expend.

“How can a parent in Rutherford, New Jersey … fight a battle that’s halfway across the world? How do they pay for it?” Sagnip said. “It’s a tremendous expense, it’s a tremendous undertaking, and this [bill] puts the State Department in their corner.”

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UK-Russia child abduction still a problem but new law may help


August 1 , 2014

Source: spearswms.com

 

 

With more and more Russians heading to the UK, it’s important to take into account the newly amended Hague Convention on international child abduction. But the UK government still fails to do enough for aggrieved parents

 

 russia_mapThe wheels of international law turn slowly. On 1 October 2011, Russia became the 86th signatory of the Hague Convention of October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, it was only in June last year that the UK recognised Russia’s accession under its own domestic legislation.

With a significant Russian presence in the UK and with an increasing trend of Russian parents placing their children in UK schools, it is important for Russians either coming to the UK or returning to Russia to understand the effect of this recent development.

Research conducted by the Foreign Office suggests that half the UK population think that when a child is abducted it is the responsibility of the government of the country where the child lived to seek and return the child. The stark reality is that little government help is provided and it is up to the parent, at a time of great emotional distress, to instruct a lawyer and pursue recourse via a private application through the court system.

Pictured above: Gentlemen about to discuss the first Hague Convention in 1899, which regulated conduct during warfare.

The convention harmonises the resources from country to country to ensure that children who have been removed from one signatory country to another can be located, apprehended and returned to their parent or guardian in their country of habitual residence, to minimise distress and harm to the child.

Without the convention and the reciprocal legal framework it provides between countries, the return of children can prove more time consuming, costly and ultimately distressing for the child.

Article 3 of the convention states that a child is abducted where:

A) The child habitually resides a country that is a signatory to the convention. The actual nationality of the child or parents is unlikely to be significant in most abduction cases.

B) The child is removed abroad or is being detained there without the permission of their legal guardian in breach of that person’s custody rights.

C) The child is under sixteen years old.

The reality is that harmonising international law is seldom straightforward and the convention is no different. One such difficulty is that the implementation of the convention from state to state can differ in significant ways. Indeed, Hague can conflict with domestic laws.

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For example, in Russia, children can be taken abroad by one parent without written permission from the other but that would be considered a crime in many signatory countries of the convention.

Thus a paradox may be created where a child could be taken from Russia to England by one parent without the consent of the other, but as Russia is now a signatory to the convention, a child who is habitually resident in England but who is taken without consent to Russia would be required to be returned by the Russian authorities to the UK.

It is uncontroversial to say that some signatories are more willing to deploy resources to a child abduction incident that others. Russia, has not fared particularly well in this regard historically.

Last year the European Court of Human Rights decreed that Russia had breached a mother’s human rights under Article 8 (which includes a right for a parent to have measures taken by national authorities to reunite them with their children from whom they have been separated) because it took the authorities three years to reunite the boy with his mother.

Conversely, the first British/Russian convention case was settled in November last year; the Russian courts ordered the return of five- and seven-year old boys to their habitual residence in England after they were taken on holiday to Russia by their Russian father, who then failed to return with them.

The complexities that can arise in child abduction cases, combined with public ignorance of the law regarding the removal of children from a country, and the increasing international demography of the UK, particularly London, makes for a combustible mix of factors.

It is stating the obvious to say that foresight is preferable to an international child abduction battle which can and probably will be emotionally distressing and possibly damaging for the child or children involved. Communication between parents, possibly with legal assistance to clarify parental rights, will be effective to prevent a situation arising where the convention needs to be invoked.

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Clear, fair rules needed for international divorces


February 11, 2014

Source: Asahi.com

Globalization does not always bring about happy endings.

When an internationally married couple is going through a contentious divorce, in which country’s court of law should the dispute be resolved?

japanese_Child_Abduction

Currently, there is no clear rule on this matter. All the courts can do is to decide the jurisdiction depending on the case. This situation has long caused huge headaches for those involved.

Belatedly, Japan’s Justice Ministry has asked its advisory body, the Legislative Council, to come up with proposals on the issue. We hope the council will swiftly put together a set of easy-to-understand rules.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were 16,000 divorces in Japan in 2012 involving a non-Japanese spouse. This is twice the figure of 20 years ago, and accounts for 7 percent of all divorces.

In the case of international divorces, the question of which country to seek legal recourse in is an important matter. Going through the legal process in a country with a foreign language and a foreign legal system is grueling work.

Even if the plaintiff is Japanese, there is no guarantee that the arbitration or trial can be held in Japan if the spouse resides in a foreign country. This is because consideration should be given to the spouse who would be the defendant in the case.

In Japan’s current legal system, the tentative basic rule is that court proceedings should be undertaken in the country of the defending spouse’s residence. There have been exceptions, however, when the defending foreign spouse is missing, for example. Japanese courts deal with such cases even if the defendant does not reside in Japan.

In some previous cases when the defendant was not in Japan, Japanese courts went ahead with legal proceedings on the grounds that the divorce approved by a court in the spouse’s country was invalid in Japan.

Japan_Child_Abduction

The individual situations of each divorce are so varied that setting uniform standards is a difficult process. This has long been considered an international conundrum since countries and cultures have different acceptance levels when it comes to divorce.

Unlike in Japan, where many couples divorce by agreement, divorce by trial is the usual procedure in a number of countries. Some countries basically do not allow divorce.

Given these factors, it would be inappropriate to create a system based only on Japan’s situation. A broad international perspective is necessary.

In recent years, parts of the European Union have attempted to establish common rules about jurisdiction of divorce court proceedings. Under these proposals, initial jurisdiction would be in the hands of the couple’s current country of residence, second jurisdiction would be in the country where the couple most recently lived together, and so on.

We need deeper discourse to decide what rules are appropriate for Japan. We would also have to contemplate sharing those rules with some countries.

The important thing is to establish standards that are as comprehensible and fair as possible to lighten the load of the parties involved and smooth their paths toward restarting their lives after divorce.

This is a cumbersome business, but the number of cross-border marriages and divorces will continue to grow. The endeavors of the legal system must not be left behind by changes in the real world.

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UK arranged marriages: Kidnapping, rape and murder in the name of family honour


November 26 , 2013

Source: ABP News

“We have kidnappings, abductions, assaults, sexual offences. Anything that you can imagine could happen, does happen, in the name of honour,” says Nazir Afzal, Crown Prosecutor for the north-west of England.

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And murder – 10 to 12 cases a year. Yet as the hyper-active, smartly dressed lawyer concedes in his Manchester office, violence invoked in the name of family honour, mostly by citizens of South Asian and Middle Eastern origin, is often hidden and unreported.

Mr Afzal knows about honour, having grown up in Birmingham in a Pakistani Muslim household.

Honour, he says, can be a good thing, helping bind families and communities together.

But, “at the moment in so many communities, in so many families, it is merely used to suppress women, to oppress women. So, if they misbehave in some way, or make their own choice, they have dishonoured the family. If men do the same, well it’s men – you know they do what they want. Regrettably too often it’s used to control women.”

After World War II, Britain received waves of migrants from its former colonies in India, Pakistan and later Bangladesh.

Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and others came, some for higher education, but mostly to work in the factories around London and in the Midlands and north of England.

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In England, generations who self-identify as Asian now number more than 4 million, 8 per cent of the English population.

‘In the name of the father, the son, and the male members of the family’

Arranged marriages are a still a feature of migrant communities, with parents agreeing that their children will marry, particularly first cousins. But for teenagers growing up in the United Kingdom, torn between the strictures of home and the freedoms of 21st century Britain, arranged marriages too often become forced marriages.

“There are probably between 8,000 to 10,000 forced marriages or threats of forced marriages in the United Kingdom every year,” Mr Afzal says.

“We prosecuted more than 200 cases last year of honour-based violence. What we have here are crimes in the name of the father, the son and the blessed male members of the family.”

Currently there is no law against forced marriage in the United Kingdom. That will change early next year, with new legislation similar to that introduced this year in Australia.

Hundreds of young girls disappear from British schools every year

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a unit devoted to trying to prevent young people, mostly girls and women but also boys and men, being compelled to travel abroad to marry someone whom in many cases they have never met.

The Forced Marriage Unit handled 1,485 cases last year, 35 per cent of them involving teenagers aged 17 or younger. One of its biggest problems is trying to track down people who travel to South Asia and never return.

Mr Afzal says a British government survey of school pupils highlighted the problem.

“They discovered hundreds and hundreds of young girls, and by that I mean 11, 12, 13-year-olds, who would just disappear off the school rolls.”

While it is illegal in the United Kingdom for anyone to marry under the age of 16, marriages involving children still happen in South Asia and the Middle East.

Sometimes girls do not return to Britain until they are pregnant, the theory being that this may assist the process by which the husband seeks residency in the United Kingdom.

Girl told to ‘put a spoon in your knickers’ at airport to avoid being sent abroad

Jasvinder Sanghera, who escaped a forced marriage by running away from her Sikh family home in Derby at the age of 15, formed Karma Nirvana 20 years ago to help people in trouble.

She says the Leeds-based charity has received more than 30,000 calls since 2008.

“To me that’s a drop in the ocean … it could be quadrupled,” she said.

 

Ms Sanghera recalls an occasion when a girl feared she was being taken abroad against her will.

“The call handler said, ‘Put a spoon in your knickers. When you go through security it will go off and at that point you’re going to be stopped by a security guard and say I’m being forced to marry’. Which is exactly what she did, and it saved her life.”

Campaigning on the issues of forced marriages has given Ms Sanghera a high profile, an MBE, a meeting with prime minister David Cameron and with countless senior police and other government officials. And yet she believes schools, police and communities are not taking forced marriages and honour-based violence seriously enough.

“If you are Asian and missing from education, the same questions are not asked as [of their] white counterparts here in Britain,” she said.

“And that has not changed because we know there are hundreds going missing off our school rolls. Maybe they’re not being forced into marriage, but the point is, ask the question and look into it. They’re not even doing that.”

As for police: “There are some police forces which are doing sterling work now and trying to get it right. On the ground it’s a different story. There are 43 police forces across the UK and I would refer to potentially four [getting it right]. You know, it’s very much dependent on the person you get on the day.”

British police have been severely criticised for their failures in a series of high-profile honour killings:

  • Banaz Mahmud, 20, strangled on the orders of her father and uncle
  • Surjit Athwal, 27, murdered on the orders of her mother-in-law and brother-in-law
  • Shafilea Ahmed, 17, suffocated by her parents.

In each case, police initially, and in some cases repeatedly, failed to comprehend the seriousness of the threat.

As Ms Sanghera tells trainee detectives in Birmingham, relating the Banaz Mahmud case: “She told police her family was planning to kill her because she’d left an abusive marriage and was seen kissing a man outside a Tube station. And she was not believed. She was dealt with as being melodramatic, fantasising.”

Just a month later she’d been raped and garrotted, her body packed in a suitcase and buried in a garden.

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Tiger Kidnapping and family hostage situations


April 6 2013

Tiger Kidnapping is an extremely stressful crime whereby criminals abduct a member of staff’s family (often a child) and threaten them with harm unless the employee attends their work place, removes a large sum of money then delivers it into the hands of the criminal.

tiger-kidnap-img

It’s called ‘Tiger Kidnapping’ because of the way the criminals stalk their victims for some considerable amount of time before the kidnap attack and robbery takes place.

Tiger Kipnapping occurs frequently in Europe

here has also been an increase in Tiger Kidnap offences in England, Scotland and Wales, with some high profile cases attracting media attention because of the scale of loss.

To fully understand the methods and impact on the victims, it’s worth looking at these cases as reported in the media:-

BBC: The Securitas raid followed a classic tiger kidnapping. So what can be done about it?

Mum and her Four-year-old Son Kidnapped for Ransom Demand

Father and son held captive in 11-hour tiger kidnap ordeal by armed gang in cash van heist

The tiger kidnapping  

Preventing Tiger Kidnap

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Three areas you may choose to cover off to prevent Tiger Kidnapping are:-

Physical Security – Use of Drop Safes means that no one person has access to to the cash at any one time. Use time locks on the outer safe. Ensure good CCTV covers cash holding areas, and this is monitored for signs of unusual activity.

Adequate Processes and Procedures – Make it impossible for one single person on their own to access cash (dual key doors etc). Strictly enforce access and key controls, and ensure segregation of duties. E.g Store Keyholders don’t have access to the safe. Severely restrict the number of employees who can access cash areas. Have cash operation confidentiality policies backed by disciplinary action.

Situational Awareness – Potentially vulnerable staff and managers are made aware of Tiger Kidnapping, how to spot the likely surveillance which precedes it, and action to take if they see suspicious activity.

The above is intended as a very basic guide. For far more detailed advice and research see the resources below.

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Historic child abduction: Patricia O’Byrne sentenced to house arrest


April 5, 2013

Source: the star.com

A woman who abducted her baby daughter and kept her from the father for 18 years avoids jail because of “unique circumstances” — and the dad’s request.

patricia_O´Byrne

 

Patricia O’Byrne leaves College Park court after being sentenced to house arrest for abducting her child and keeping her away from the father for 18 years.

A woman who pleaded guilty to abducting her 20-month-old daughter and keeping her away from the girl’s father for 18 years has been sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest.

Patricia O’Byrne will serve her time, less 48 days of credit for pre-trial custody, at her home in Victoria, B.C., followed by two years’ probation.

Normally, parents abducting their children should get “real jail” to denounce their conduct and deter others, Justice Mara Greene said at College Park provincial court Tuesday.

“However, the case at bar has some unique mitigating factors,” the judge added.

PhotosView gallery

  • Patricia O'Byrne leaves the courthouse at 361 University Ave. in Toronto in January 2012.zoom
  • Patricia O'Byrne arrives at College Park court in Toronto for sentencing on April 2, 2013.zoom
  • Patricia O'Byrne leaves College Park court after sentencing for abducting her child and keeping her away from the father for 18 years.zoom

“Ms O’Byrne acted in a way that she thought was in the best interest of her child. She was frantic and fearful for her child’s safety when she was not with her. These thoughts ultimately led her to abduct her child.”

Secondly, there is a clear link between the abuse she suffered as a child and the initial commission of the offence, Greene said.

“I appreciate that this does not explain why Ms O’Byrne kept (her daughter) away from her father for 18 years. At some point, the abduction became less about Ms O’Byrne’s concern for the safety of her child and more about protecting herself from detection and prosecution.”

But the judge noted that O’Byrne has pleaded guilty and taken full responsibility.

In addition, O’Byrne’s daughter and father, Joe Chisholm, wrote statements that said jailing her will only exacerbate the harm already done.

Neither father nor daughter was in court for the sentencing.

O’Byrne, 55, refused to speak to reporters as she left.

But her lawyer, Julianna Greenspan, said the former Toronto woman is grateful for the judge’s decision.

The 21-year-old daughter, who cannot be identified, is also thankful her mother is spared jail, Greenspan said.

Daughter and father are developing a relationship, Greenspan added. “There is a hope for rebuilding and moving forward.”

Crown prosecutor Michael Callaghan had sought a sentence of 15 to 18 months in jail, followed by probation. He had no comment afterward.

O’Byrne mistrusted men because of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child and physical abuse she witnessed her mother experience, the judge noted.

“She was convinced, albeit wrongly, that Mr. Chisholm was putting her daughter at risk by using male babysitters,” Greene said.

Under a May 10, 1993, settlement, the daughter was to primarily live with O’Byrne, but Chisholm was granted access. But within weeks, O’Byrne and their daughter disappeared.

Over the years, Chisholm worked tirelessly to locate his girl, registering her with Child Find. Police issued a Canada-wide warrant for O’Byrne’s arrest.

Mother and daughter lived in Ireland for a time, moving to B.C. 10 years ago. There O’Byrne worked for the government and did volunteer work.

“Ms O’Byrne appears to have led a productive life and been a wonderful mother. I hesitate to refer to her existence as pro-social, however, as she spent the past 18 years living under a false identity and continued to be in breach of a court order.”

On Oct. 4, 2011, police got an anonymous tip she was living in Victoria under an assumed name. They arrested her on Dec. 1, 2011.

Chisholm’s victim impact statement showed tremendous strength, compassion and kindness, Greene said.

“What is equally obvious from his statement is the extreme pain he has endured over the past 18 years, all as a result of Ms O’Byrne’s conduct.”

Chisholm said in an interview before the sentencing that, whatever the outcome, he doesn’t harbour ill feelings for O’Byrne.

“I see it as impossible to love your child and hate her parent,” he said. “I hope everyone comes out of this in the best possible way.”

In an earlier written statement for the judge, O’Byrne said she was never motivated by a desire to hurt the father or his family.

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Abe tells Obama Japan will join child abduction treaty


February 23, 2013

Source: Japan Today

WASHINGTON —

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday that Tokyo would join a treaty on child abductions, addressing a major concern for lawmakers in Washington.

Japan_Child_Abduction

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires nations to return snatched children to the countries where they usually reside.

“From the perspective of children, there is an increasing number of international marriages, meaning that there will be some cases where marriages will break down. Therefore we believe it is important to have international rules,” Abe told reporters after talks with Obama.

“We will make efforts in the Diet so that the Convention can be approved. I delivered this message to the president,” Abe told reporters after his meeting with Obama.

However, Abe did not set a timeframe. The previous DPJ government also said it wanted to enter the treaty but did not move ratification through the Diet.

Unlike Western nations, Japan does not recognize joint custody and courts almost always order that children of divorcees live with their mothers.

Hundreds of parents, mostly men, from the United States and elsewhere have been left without any recourse after their estranged partners take their half-Japanese children back to the country.

U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly demanded action from Japan on child abductions, one of the few open disputes between the close allies.

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United States – Parental Child Abduction Statistics 2012


January 25, 2013

Source: U.S State Dept.

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Unreported cases of abduction are forecasted to be between 100% and 125% of reported cases. These cases continue to increase due to a flux of immigration migration and both documented (legal) and undocumented (illegal) residents not being aware that they can turn to their government for assistance.

2012 Outgoing case statistics

2012 Incoming case statistics

2011 Outgoing case statistics

2011 Incoming case statistics 

2010 Outgoing case statistics

2010 Incoming case statistics

2012 report on compliance with the 1980 Hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction

United Kingdom: 

New figures reveal that the number of parental child abduction cases dealt with by the Foreign Office has risen by 88% in under a decade.

In the last year alone the Foreign Office’s Child Abduction Section fielded an average of four calls per day to its specialist advice line, more than half of which were new cases .

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The Foreign Office says that that the statistics could be just the tip of the iceberg because many cases go unreported as parents seek custody of their children through foreign courts.

Research commissioned by the Foreign Office shows that half the UK population believes the government can intervene to order the return of a child to the UK if he or she has been abducted by a parent. However, the reality is that whilst help is available, parental child abduction cases can take years to resolve.

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The Hague Convention – Japan says it will sign child abduction treaty


January 19, 2013

Source: Japan Today

WASHINGTON —

Japan’s foreign minister said Friday that the new government would sign a treaty on child abductions, addressing one of the few rifts in relations with its main ally the United States.

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Japan has not signed or ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires the return of wrongfully held children to the countries where they usually live, but a previous left-leaning government had said it planned to do so.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, whose conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power last month, said on a visit to Washington that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government would take the same stance.

“The government of Japan is intending to go through the necessary procedures for early signing of the treaty,” Kishida told a news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said she hoped that Japan’s parliament would pass legislation on the Hague treaty during its upcoming session.

Japanese courts virtually never grant custody to foreign parents or to fathers, leaving few legal avenues for fathers whose former partners have fled to Japan with their children.

U.S. parents have pursued at least 120 cases in Japan to seek access to half-Japanese children, invariably to no avail. The U.S. Congress has repeatedly pressed Japan to take up the issue.

The previous Japanese government’s position had initially heartened U.S. officials, but their hopes dimmed as Tokyo delayed action on the Hague treaty and indicated that a ratification would only apply to future cases.

Japanese critics of the Hague convention have previously argued that the country needs to protect women from potentially abusive foreign men.

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Law Firm backs new international child abduction campaign -“Latest child abduction figures come as no surprise.


January 17, 2013

Source:bournemouthchamber.org.uk

A NEW campaign highlighting a big rise in the number of children abducted and taken abroad by an estranged parent has been backed by Chamber members Ellis Jones Solicitors. A total of 512 cases involving 84 different countries were reported to British authorities in 2011/2012, according to data from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). That compares with 272 in 51 countries in 2003/2004, an increase of 88 per cent in eight years.

UK-geo-stub

It is illegal for a parent to take a child overseas without permission from others with parental responsibility. However 24 per cent of Britons are unaware it is a crime, according to separate FCO research. The research revealed that although 74 per cent of people thought fathers were most likely to abduct their children, statistics from the charity Reunite International suggested 70 per cent of their cases concerned mothers taking a child.

Katie_Taft_Solicitor
The FCO has now launched a national campaign to highlight the issue. Katie Taft, a solicitor with Ellis Jones who specialises in child abduction work, said the national increase in cases was borne out by her own experiences.
The Dorset and New Forest law firm is a member of the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit specialist panel and a recognised expert, regularly representing both mothers and fathers to secure the prompt return of their child or children.

Katie said: “We’ve seen an increased workload over the last few years which is to be expected given the rise in the number of families with parents who originate from different countries. Therefore, the latest FCO figures really come as no surprise. Currently we’re handing a number of cases of this nature across the South of England. “Child abduction causes a huge amount of distress and we welcome the FCO’s decision to launch a national campaign to highlight the issue.

“It’s important that this subject is kept in the public spotlight and that parents think twice before causing significant distress to their children, and other members of the family, by even contemplating abducting a child,” Katie added.

Parents, or those with parental responsibility, who fear their child has been or is at risk of being abducted can contact Katie or Sean McNally on 01202 636223. Alternatively the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit can be reached on 020 7911 7047/7045 from 10am to 4pm.

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