Search continues for two boys believed abducted from Florida


April 5 2013

Source:

This is not the first time a man with ties to Louisiana is suspected of abducting his two young sons. Last year, the boys’ biological father reportedly kidnapped them at gunpoint from foster care in Louisiana.

Today, authorities in Louisiana and several other states continue to search for Joshua Michael Hakken, a 35-year-old with ties to the Slidell area who is suspected of taking his 4- and 2-year-old sons from their maternal grandparents’ home in Florida after tying up their grandmother.

“It’s the manner in which the kids were taken that concerns law enforcement,” FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier said during a news conference today.

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Hakken, 35, entered his mother-in-law’s house north of Tampa, tied her up and fled with the children, authorities say. Hakken, the boys and the boys’ mother might be traveling in a black 2006 GMC pickup bearing University of Florida license plate U95KT.

Tips about 4-year-old Cole Hakken and 2-year-old Chase Hakken have poured in from several states, an FBI agent and a Hillsborough County, Fla., sheriff’s spokesman said during a news conference.

Officials say Hakken and 34-year-old Sharyn Patricia Hakken are the prime suspects in the abduction. “Both suspects are anti-government and have attempted a previous abduction at gunpoint in Louisiana,” an earlier news release says. Authorities are focused on the children and not the parents’ political views, Couvertier said. “We’re working on the safe return of the entire family, specifically the children. We don’t anticipate or expect them to hurt their children. And, hopefully, we can put the family back together.”

The Hillsborough sheriff’s office has issued an arrest warrant for Joshua Hakken. He faces two counts each of kidnapping, child neglect and false imprisonment and one count each of burglary with a battery and grand theft auto.

Joshua Hakken lost custody of his sons last year after his arrest on a drug possession charge, authorities say. He later tried to take them at gunpoint from a foster home in Louisiana, they added.

The two boys have been living with their maternal grandparents since last year, officials said. A Louisiana court informed the Hakkens on Tuesday that they’d been stripped of their parental rights. This morning, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued a statewide alert after the family’s vehicle was believed to have been seen about 8 p.m. Wednesday in Etowah in southeast Tennessee.

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Christmas A Time of Parental Child Abduction Risk


Source: SOS Children’s Villages Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Help us bring our children home


Source: The Courier-Mail, June 14, 2011

RAISING AWARENESS: Ken Thompson cycled 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son. Picture: AP Source: AP

HUNDREDS of desperate mums and dads are fighting to have their kids returned to Australia amid the “silent epidemic” of international parental abduction. Three children are taken from our shores each week and the parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

International help is available under the Hague Convention for the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, the process can be largely fruitless if the fleeing parent takes the child to an unco-operative country such as Brazil or Chile, or a country not yet party to the treaty such as Japan. Last year, 125 children were wrongfully removed from Australia to another Hague Convention country, with 74 returned. Another 29 were abducted to non-convention countries. These are the cases authorities know of, with family dispute experts saying the true number could be double official figures.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland told The Courier-Mail parental child abductions were “not uncommon”. “I think each and every MP who’s been here for a while would have seen an example in their electorate,” he said. The scale of the issue has been widely reflected in social media, with hundreds of Facebook pages and social networking campaigns dedicated to finding parentally abducted children.

The Courier-Mail has spoken to five parents – including four Queenslanders – who are fighting for their kids’ return. A Townsville-born dad, who lives in the US, has vowed to get his two-year-old son back from Brazil or “die trying” after his wife of seven years took their boy to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week holiday and never returned.

“Child abduction for the left-behind parent is like waterboarding,” he said. “The frustration, the worry, the missing each day of his life is all-consuming.” In separate cases spanning seven years, four fathers said their former Japanese spouses had abducted their kids after the Family Court granted the mothers permission to take the children to Japan for a holiday. George, from the Gold Coast, said he lived solely to see his two sons again after they were abducted to Japan in 2004. “To be honest, I even got so depressed for two years, I nearly killed myself,” he said. “The only thing (left-behind parents) can do is support each other.

No one’s helping us.” Daniel, from Sydney, said his former wife abducted their two-year-old son to Japan last year, after they separated, because she disagreed with Australian custody laws. “That was not how she wanted to live her life. It just didn’t fit into her plans,” he said. International Social Service Australia national services manager Helen Freris said the ratio of mums and dads abducting children was roughly equal. “The two main reasons given are a belief it’s the only way to protect a child and the other overarching category involves revenge towards the other parent,” she said.

Whatever the motive, child abduction had long-term psychological impacts on the child and left-behind parent. “It can impact the child’s sense of safety, security and stability in their living arrangements,” Ms Freris said. “There are also the economic implications … initiating legal proceedings in the country where the child has been taken can be costly,” she said. Former NSW deputy fire chief Ken Thompson said he had experienced shock, disbelief, anxiety, depression and uncertainty when his six-year-old son Andrew was abducted in 2008.

The Sydney father – who raised awareness of the issue by cycling 6500km across Europe in a desperate bid to find his son – said parental abduction was “incredibly cruel” to children, as well as left-behind parents. “It’s recognised as one of the most extreme forms of child abuse because you’ve taken that child away from everything … and in a lot of cases they lose contact with both sides (of the family) because the parent’s in hiding,” he said. “The number of people who are damaged by this phenomenon is just extraordinary. “It’s not just the left-behind parent. “It’s the other family members, friends, colleagues. “Not knowing where your child is has got to be the worst thing you can possibly experience.” To other left-behind parents, Mr Thompson said: “You’ve just got to keep focused on finding the child and working through whatever legal processes are available to have the child returned. “You’ve also got to raise public awareness to the plight of the child.”

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Parents sick of waiting for ‘child abduction’ action


Source: The Courier-Mail June 13, 2011

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

 

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and . . . is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments . . . including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to . . . include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list. “The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.”

Families torn apart: Meet the parents fighting to see their kids again, only in The Courier-Mail tomorrow  

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Australia: Push to curb abductions by parents


Source: The Courier-Mail  June 13, 2011

UNDER CONSIDERATION: Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the Government is considering increasing penalties for parents who keep their children overseas for longer than an agreed period.

NEW laws are being considered to stem the flow of children abducted from Australia by parents.

Three children are illegally taken overseas each week in a “silent epidemic” of parental abductions.

Parents left behind face trauma, guilt and financial stress as they take on the emotional, complex and often futile task of having their children returned.

The Family Law Council has advised Attorney-General Robert McClelland that keeping children overseas, beyond an agreed period, should be made a criminal offence that could attract a jail term.

Current legislation does not cover the situation where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent, but then keeps the child abroad.

Mr McClelland said the council’s submission “had some weight” and was under “serious consideration”.

He said failing to return a child could be an offence added to section 65 of the Act.

“A situation when a child is taken out of the country voluntarily, or with consent, for instance for a holiday or to visit overseas relatives and … is kept overseas that’s certainly an issue the Government is looking at,” he said. “We’ll be looking at what we’re doing with a bunch of family law amendments … including the violence amendments.”

The Council recommended the Family Law Act (1975) be amended to include wrongful retentions.

“Council also recommends that the Act be amended to … include parents who remove a child without the requisite consent or authority in circumstances where Family Dispute Resolution has been initiated, or an invitation to participate in Family Dispute Resolution has been received,” the advice said.

“International parental child abduction has serious implications for public policy, the welfare of children and access to justice.”

Mr McClelland urged parents worried about child abductions to act fast.

“We could do more work in promoting the preventative measures parents can take, such as getting their children on the airport watch list,” he said.

“The Family Court’s becoming a little more proactive. They will much more quickly hear applications for people to get their kids placed on the airport watch list …

“The first thing is (for parents) to think carefully before they give consent for a passport to be issued in a child’s name.

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Parental child abduction still far too easy, officials say


Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald

Published: Friday, June 03, 2011

Stricter travel regulations should be in place to hamper schemes of parents abducting their children and escaping to foreign countries, according to investigators charged with chasing them.

“When our children are going out of the country, there’s no bar. Some of the airlines do their due diligence, but do all of them do their due diligence? It would be better to have a binding legal document that’s notarized prior to travelling with a child,” said Missing Children Society Canada investigator Wendy Christensen.

“The issue is coming to light and more people are being affected.”

Earlier this week, the plight of a Calgary mother made headlines after police made a public plea for help in solving her year-old case.

Mona Gill hasn’t seen her toddler since he was abducted by his father and taken to India in May 2010.

Canada-wide abduction without consent warrants have been issued for Harpreet Singh Arora, 44, for whisking the estranged couple’s 21/2-year-old son Shael abroad without warning.

Their current location is unknown.

Gill is one of hundreds of Canadian parents who suffer every year from having their children abducted by the other parent.

Children taken to another country against one parent’s will unravel into costly emotional, financial and legal nightmares that sometimes never get resolved.

According to 2009 statistics from the RCMP’s National Missing Children Services, there were 237 cases of children being snatched by a parent.

Five cases in the past five years have come to Calgary investigators.

Only two cases have been resolved.

Some parents have been forced to take matters into their own hands.

The case of Calgary mother Melissa Hawach made global headlines when she hired two mercenaries and secretly travelled to Lebanon during Hezbollah’s war with Israel at the end of 2006 to take back her daughters Cedar and Hannah from their father.

But without stronger checks in Canada, more children will be lost, said Christensen.

“Airlines follow Transport Canada guidelines, but there’s no exit control in our country,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s consistency with other countries. If we were more proactive in what we do, we may be an example to other countries to show how to do it right.”

The day Gill was to pick father and son up from the airport, a note was left on her front door informing her that Arora was taking his son away to spend time with him.

Gill reported the abduction to police before she travelled overseas from June to September.

Unless Arora hands the child over himself, police say the investigation may rely on family and friends rethinking their roles in helping him.

After exhausting all other leads for the past year, the RCMP’s National Missing Children Services launched an international alert protocol. Interpol in Hong Kong and Singapore have also been alerted.

The estranged couple, who were married for four years, did not have a custody agreement in place, but there was no acknowledged dispute.

Airlines generally recommend that parents who travel solo with children carry a parental consent letter authorizing travel. The letter must be signed and dated by the other parent.

But without a warning of a custody dispute, airlines say they are helpless to stop travellers.

“Unless we have been notified in advance by the authorities that a specific parent should not be travelling with their child, assuming all the appropriate paperwork was in order, we would have no reason to suspect anything was wrong,” said WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer.

“Parents travel solo with their children all the time.”

Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said, “We are obliged by law to ensure that all passengers have government-issued ID before boarding the aircraft, with no lawful obligation for additional documentation checks before boarding an aircraft.

“All other documentation checks fall under the responsibility of government immigration authorities on entry into those countries.”

The Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for checking people entering Canada, not leaving.

One saving grace is the international treaty designed to help parents whose children have been taken illegally to another country.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction has been in force in Alberta for 20 years. About 75 countries are signatories to the treaty and more than 400 Canadian children have been returned over the years, thanks to the agreement.

Some countries do not recognize parental abduction as a crime.

“A custody order issued by a Canadian court has no automatic binding legal force beyond the borders of Canada,” according to the Foreign Affairs guide.

Investigators say all countries should require parents travelling solo with children to have permission from both parents, even though that means adding another level of bureaucracy.

“‘We have to make it difficult. We have to have something similar for international travel with our children,” said Christensen.

“It would be a start, everybody having to take onus and everybody being part of the solution.”

“People don’t look at it as a crime, but it is. We have to take steps working with Transport Canada, the airlines, border services, everyone, to have something in place so we can have confidence that if that child is leaving the country, they’re coming back.

“We need to treat our children as precious, because they’re a precious commodity.”

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Why are International Abductions within the Family Increasing?


By: Safekids
Statistics from international child abduction charity suggest that international child abductions within the family have increased by 87% since 1995. The reasons for this may be many, but it is believed that a variety of factors have made international travel and residence much easier for most people. Reasons for this increase likely include:
  • A rise in the number of parents who break up with each other, including through divorce.
  • A rise in the number of people marrying foreign nationals (meaning that these partners will become parents with origins and possibly residences in other countries).
  • Cheaper international travel options, which allows more parents to purchase passage for themselves and their children to other countries.
  • Greater familiarity with immigration laws, which means that more people are aware of where and how they can work in other countries, particularly those in the European Union.

How Can Parents Guard their Children Against an International Abduction?

There are many things that a guardian parent can do to prevent their ex-partner from taking their children across international boundaries. Guardian parents can:

  • Obtain a court order as to the custody or residence of their children. If the child ordinarily resides in a specific country or was abducted from that country, a court order is necessary for it to be considered an abduction.
  • Prevent passports from being issued for their children. You will likely need an order of the court as well as this request in writing.
  • Tell the police of your suspicions.
  • Request a Port Warning or Port Alert in urgent/imminent circumstances. Only the police are able to issue such an alert, and only when there is good reason to believe that the child may be taken out of the country.
  • Contact a solicitor  to discuss their personal situation and transmit this information to the partner they believe may be thinking of abducting their children.

Child abduction within the family is a crime much like any other type of child abduction. If you fear that your child may be abducted by another family member, take necessary precautions to keep him/her safe, and if the worst does happen report the abduction immediately. Don’t hesitate, or you may regret the wait later.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

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