International Parental Child Abduction – Japan’s Child Kidnapping Problem


May 20, 2013

Source: thedailybeast

Dozens of American children are abducted to Japan every year—not by strangers, but by parents after messy divorces. As Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky and Jake Adelstein report, divorce laws protective of Japanese nationals encourage such illegal abductions.

Japan has a child-kidnapping problem. It’s not strangers snatching the kids on the playground or at the bus stop; the problem is that when a Japanese national divorces a foreigner overseas, he or she can abduct their children and bring them back to Japan, and the law ensures that the parent left behind has no rights to see the children or take them back home. The U.S. State Department reports that there have been over 100 such kidnappings since 1994, but according to a source, the number is closer to 400. Within Japan itself, divorce often means that one parent may have little or no access to the child. Japan’s inability to deal with child abduction partly stems from archaic family law in Japan that does not recognize joint custody. It’s a winner-take-all system. The law makes it almost impossible for the other parent to even meet the child, if the Japanese partner objects.

Kidnappings in Japan

Mika Chiba, at a meeting on the Hague Convention held at the Japanese Diet on March 12, showing pictures of her abducted son. (Nathalie Stucky)

“Once the child is on Japanese soil, if the foreign parent tries to take them back to their home country, we have to treat him or her as a kidnapper—unless the Japanese courts have clearly given them custody,” a police officer from Tokyo told us. “Most of the time, we imagine the Japanese parent is shielding the child from domestic abuse or a poor living environment. Maybe sometimes the foreign parent is actually trying to rescue his or her child from an abusive Japanese household, but we can’t make that judgment. The non-Japanese trying to take back their child is the criminal in most cases. The law is the law.”

After 30 years of international pressure, Japan’s National Diet is expected to endorse the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction this month and approve necessary legislation possibly by the end of the year. At present, 89 countries are members of the Hague abduction convention, which went into effect in 1983. Japan is the only G8 country that is not a member.

If the Diet ratifies the treaty by the end of May, as predicted, it would extend custody rights to non-Japanese parents whose children have been taken to Japan by their former spouses. After ratification, the Japanese government will have to take steps to ensure that the treaty is actually upheld. Under the convention, the parents of abductees will have a legal framework to request their children be returned. However, the convention prohibits returning children to the country of residence if they face grave danger, including domestic violence. Questions remain as to the burden of proof that will be required for Japanese nationals who refuse to return the children, using allegations of “grave danger.”

The U.S. State Department has been conducting surveys on the number of abducted American children since 1994. The numbers are difficult to assess because not all parents report abductions to the authorities. Victims of child abduction are hard to track officially, because Japan and many countries do not consider it a vital statistic. Also, child abduction by a parent is not considered a crime in Japan once the family court grants the sole custody to one parent. However, some researchers have been keeping track of the numbers by gathering information from town-hall meetings and correspondence with the families of the abducted. According to one knowledgeable source, between 1994 and 2012, there were 278 cases involving 386 American children taken back to Japan.

Abducted_Japan

“There are no official numbers,” explained Yuichi Mayama, a member of the Diet. “Even we lawmakers, when we tried to ask the government for the exact number of cases, got no real answer. The answer we got was that probably after the Hague Convention comes into effect, it may be possible to track the numbers.”

“Simply because a marriage breaks down, that does not necessarily imply that the children should lose one of their parental relations,” said John Gomez, chairman of the recently founded nonprofit organization Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion. He notes that many pediatricians and child-care experts assert that children thrive when they have relationships with both of their parents, even after the marriage is over. But there is a concept in Japanese society that after a divorce, it is natural for one parent to give up the right to raise the child. Article 766 of Japan’s Civil Code states that a family court should decide who will have custody over a child. The extent of visitation and other means of contact between the child and their parents are also made by the court. There is no joint custody in Japan.

Experts estimate that each year close to 150,000 divorced parents in Japan lose contact with their children. Some choose to do this; most have no say in the matter. While it’s obvious that international divorce in Japan is often an ugly affair that splits children from their parents, it should also be noted that domestic divorce cases are often as bad.

Takao Tanase, a lawyer who is a law professor at Chuo University in Tokyo, notes that Japan does have a criminal clause declaring child abduction a crime, and cases of domestic abduction are not unknown. “However, the first abduction is usually not treated as a crime,” he said. “After a parental dispute, once the de facto custodian is designated by the Japanese family court, the left-behind Japanese parent can be arrested by the police if he or she tries to take back the child from the custodian parent.”

In September 2009, Christopher Savoie, an American-born, naturalized Japanese father, was arrested for allegedly abducting his son and daughter from his ex-wife, who had taken them to Japan illegally. Noriko Savoie had been granted custody on the condition that she permanently reside in Tennessee, but she violated the court order when she took the children to her native Japan. A month later, Christopher Savoie was thrown in jail in Japan on child-abduction charges when he tried to take the children back to the U.S. The case brought global attention to Japan’s failure to endorse the Hague Convention.

There is no joint custody in Japan.

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited President Obama in February, he reportedly promised that Japan would join the convention on child abductions. “From the perspective of children, there is an increasing number of international marriages and divorces,” Abe told reporters. “We believe it is important to have international rules.”

Joining the Hague Convention will not immediately affect divorced Japanese couples, but it may play a significant role in the transformation of Japanese society and family law.

“We recognize that even if the Hague Convention is ratified, we will have to make many changes in our domestic laws to be consistent” with the convention, councilor Mayama said in a press conference held last week. “At least the Japanese government recognizes these problems. We Japanese have a very traditional view of the family system. It may take time for these changes. We are working on the necessary legislation. Japan will try to make a change in the domestic laws by March of 2014.”

Japan_Child_Abducted

When international marriages break up, Japanese courts almost never grant custody to foreign parents, especially fathers. However, Japanese parents can also come out on the wrong side of the law.

Mika Chiba, 42, works as an accountant. Japanese doctors diagnosed her with schizophrenia in early 2010, and she lost the custody of her two sons, Thomas, 10, and Jonathan, 5, when she entered a mental hospital for a nine-month stay. Just before she returned from her hospitalization, her husband took their children to Manchester, and she followed him there and took him to court.

The U.K. court, citing the Hague Convention, ruled in April 2011 that Chiba’s husband had illegally abducted their two children, and therefore the family should return to Japan to decide the custody of the children in a Japanese court. The family arrived in Japan two months later, and the custody battle is currently being fought. But because there is no joint custody in Japan, and because of her nine-month absence when she was hospitalized, the children have been placed with their father, and Chiba lost visitation rights after she quarreled with her husband in July 2011. She hasn’t spent time alone with her children since then.

“I think the Japanese laws should be changed to discourage abduction and allow joint custody,” Chiba said. “If both parents could look after their kids after divorce, then there would be less abduction or maybe none. I think this is the problem in the Japanese law.”

In early February, we followed a French-speaking national, who asked not to be identified, when he visited Japan hoping to meet with his daughter. He does not have custody of his child, nor did the Japanese courts grant him visitation rights.

He went to her home, but was told by his former mother-in-law that she wasn’t there. He then tried to visit her at her school the next day. He asked the school’s principal if he could give her a waterproof camera he had bought for his daughter as a birthday present. “Sir, in Japan, the child has no right to choose if she can see her [noncustodial] parent, after a divorce,” the principal said. “If I handed this present to your daughter without the consent of your ex-wife, I could be in trouble” with the police. He waited for seven hours near the school before going back to the airport and was not able to speak with his daughter or even catch a glimpse of her.

“I don’t want to fight the Japanese authorities, because it will not help me see my daughter. I cannot win their confidence if I do the bad things,” he said. “I hope my daughter will not forget her father and, when she will become an adult, she will try to find me, because she will look for her other cultural roots.”

He hopes that the ratification of the Hague Convention may spur changes in domestic law that will allow him to have some role in raising his daughter. But his hope may be misplaced.

“I think that it will be difficult to convince the hardheaded lawmakers” to fully honor the convention,” said Tsuyoshi Shiina, another Diet member. “They believe it is a matter of ‘cultural conflict.’”

Prof. Takao Tanase also believes that Japan will ratify the convention, but not fully implement it. “Japan fundamentally supports current family-law practices. That’s why there is a strong discrepancy between the domestic law and the international standards, and that will impact negatively upon the implementation of the convention in good faith,” he said. “If the Hague Convention is ratified, and foreign nations recognize that Japan really does not comply with it, there should be a lot of pressure and criticism from the international community. I am hoping that it is the international pressure that is going to push Japan into really implementing the convention.”

It seems certain that Japan will finally sign the Hague Convention, but the implementation of it may take a very long time. Parents waiting in legal limbo to be with their children hope that it will not take another 30 years.

Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky is a freelance journalist in Tokyo. She was an assistant correspondent for the Japanese news agency Jiji Press in Geneva, and has contributed to the book Reconstructing 3/11, and is the chief editor at Japan Subculture Research Center.

Jake Adelstein has been an investigative journalist in Japan since 1993. Considered one of the foremost experts on organized crime in Japan, he works as a writer and consultant in Japan and the United States. He is also an advisor to NPO Polaris Project Japan, which combats human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children in the sex trade. He is the author of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (Vintage) and the forthcomingThe Last Yakuza: A Life In The Japanese Underworld.

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Father, step-mother and uncle arrested in child abduction case


August 23, 2012

Source: Globaltvbc

KELOWNA, BC; A young Lumby girl is back at home with her mother after her father attempted to abduct her Tuesday morning. 

The Oyama man and his wife along with a brother from Winfield were arrested and taken to Vernon police cells and are expected to face charges of abduction, assault and break and enter.

At about 8:35 a.m. Tuesday, Lumby RCMP were called after a girl was allegedly forcibly removed from her home.

It’s alleged the man also assaulted the girl’s mother and a second daughter. A landlord witnessed the abduction and attempted to intervene.

The child was carried to a waiting vehicle. The mother attempted to stop them, but was pushed aside.

There were three adults in the vehicle as it was seen driving away.

Police located the vehicle and made three arrests at Ricardo Road in Coldstream. The trio was released from jail on a promise to appear in court in September to face the charges.

Read it on Global News: Father, step-mother and uncle arrested in child abduction

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International Parental Child Abduction – Canada Fighting to Get Kidnapped Kids Back from Poland


Source: Youtube

CHARLES ADLER (Sun News Media) Interview with Stephen Watkins – International Parental Child Abduction – The non-custodial mother of Stephen Watkins’ children kidnapped the two boys from Canada and fled to Poland without custody. He’s now fighting to get them back from Poland. The Polish Courts have refused to return the Canadian Children back to Canada using a loop hole of the Hague Convention Treaty.

After being Missing and searching for two and a half years, the two little boys were located in Warsaw, Poland as a result of a Polish School taking the abducting mother, Edyta Ustaszewska (Watkins) to Court to limit her parental rights due to child protection concerns and sending a court summons to the father to appear in Polish court but delayed telling the father by 11-months.

The Polish Court taking this action had NO idea that another Polish Court Ordered Polish Police to search Poland-wide in January 2010 for these Missing / Abducted children known through social media as the “Watkins Missing Children” and that the two boys were already flagged by the Polish Police, the recognized Polish National Missing Children organization “ITAKA”, Europe’s INTERPOL and the Canadian National Police (RCMP) as internationally abducted children.

The RCMP as issued a Canada-wide alert for Edyta Watkins (Ustaszewka) and her profile appears on the RCMP’s Canada’s Most Wanted online. Canada has also issued a world-wide INTERPOL “Red Notice” for her apprehension and “Yellow Notices” for the abducted boys.

In December 2011, the Polish Hague Convention court denied returning the Canadian boys back to Canada. Stephen Watkins appealed this case and on May 29, 2012 another Polish Court dismissed the appeal and denied the return of two Missing / Abducted Canadian children back to Canada from Poland.

Even the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper and the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk were asked a questions by the media on this high profile International Child Abduction case while both in Ottawa.
(See the RAW VIDEO of the two Prime Ministers Quotes on the Main YouTube Channel)

The father had already been granted sole custody of Alexander and Christopher Watkins, in January 2009 by the Canadian Courts prior to their kidnapping due to child protection concerns reported by a Canadian School as they realized that Edyta Ustaszewska (Watkins) was physically and mentally abusing the boys while in her care. The boys were apprehended by the Canadian Courts and by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and taken away from the mother and the two boys had already been living with the father since 2007.

The two Canadian boys which were 4 years and 7 years old when abducted from Canada in March 2009 by their non-custodial mother, Edyta Ustaszewska ( Watkins ), using a Canceled Canadian Passport and the children’s Canadian Passports which were repeatedly Ordered by the Ontario Courts to be handed over in what Canada’s National Police ( RCMP ) stated in 2010 as one of Canada’s worst International Child Abduction from Canada.

The father of the abducting mother has been arrested and charged for assisting in the abduction which is still before the criminal courts in Ontario, Canada.

The father plans to appeal this case in the European Union Courts.

FIGHTING TO GET KIDNAPPED KIDS BACK
SUN NEWS NETWORK with CHARLES ADLER: Parental Kidnapping
Reported by CHARLES ADLER on June 4, 2012 21:11
“Watkins Missing Children” – International Child Abduction case

YouTube VIDEO LINK:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThiO3PVO_fM

ORIGINAL VIDEO LINK:
http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/search/stephen%20watkins/fighting-to-get-k…

Follow the “Watkins Missing Children” case and more info can be found here:
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/Watkins.Missing.Children
WEBSITE: http://www.Watkins-Missing-Children.com
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Child_Abduction

Thank you for SHARING this news interview so more people are aware of the injustice the Polish Courts are continuing to pursue which are breaking not only multiple treaties between Canada and Poland but also infringing on the Human Rights and the Rights of the Child as outlined in the UNITED NATIONS rights of the Child (CRC) which both Canada and Poland are signatories.

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Parental abduction: Thailand Child Abduction Law


Source: Thailand Family Law Center

In the context of Thailand family law, child abduction cases typically occur during a child custody dispute, when one parent flees a legal jurisdiction with any children who are the subjects of the dispute. International law and Thailand family law may come into play when a child is abducted from a foreign country and taken to Thailand, when a child is taken from Thailand to a foreign country, or when a child is abducted by a parent within Thailand.

What should I do if my child is abducted and taken to Thailand?

The first thing a parent must do if a child has been abducted and taken to Thailand is to contact legal authorities, their embassy in Thailand, and an attorney who can help put you in touch with family law attorneys in Thailand.

Can the Hague Convention on Child Abduction be used in Thailand?

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides a procedure for parents who have had their children abducted by the other parent. The Hague Treaty on Child Abduction is executed through the governments of treaty member countries, but normally requires an attorney to file the appropriate documents with the government authority responsible for the retrieval of the child.

Thailand has formally acceded to the convention; however, at this time the proper procedures for acting upon the convention have not been codified into Thai law. This means that the convention, like a variety of other Thai legal subjects, falls into the “grey area” of  Thailand law. For this reason, parents are encouraged to pursue their cases in the Thailand courts in the procedure outlined below.

What is the procedure for retrieving a child who has been taken to Thailand?

There is a great deal of misinformation stating that parental abduction in Thailand is not considered a crime under Thai law, and cannot be prosecuted. This is technically not true.

In order to retrieve a child that has been abducted by a parent in Thailand, the parent who is seeking the return of the child must seek full custody of the child in Thailand Family Courts. Once full custody has been obtained, a parent may use the Courts to issue a demand that the abducting parent attend Thai Court and return the child.

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FREE legal assistance for parents of abducted children


Source: F4E

FREE legal assistance will be available to parentswho are dealing with the abduction of a child from Australia.

The federal government has reached an agreement for new funding with the International Social Services (ISS) to provide the new service.

ISS already provides counselling and mediation services which are funded by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the service is designed to provide practical support to parents in distressing circumstances.

“We want to make it as straightforward as possible for parents to get the assistance they need when dealing with the abduction of their children from Australia,” Ms Roxon said in a statement.

ISS can be contacted by phoning 1300 657 843 or online at www.iss.org.au

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U.S. Court Refuses to Enforce Hague Convention


Source: Fathersandfamilies

April 1st, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

A New Zealand father has returned to the United States in a desperate effort to be reunited with his children who were abducted to the San Francisco Bay Area by his American wife. 

The abduction occurred three years ago, but, despite the fact that both the United States and New Zealand are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Cossey has been unsuccessful in getting more than supervised visitation with his children.  Read about it here (New Zealand Herald, 3/31/12).

Cossey and his wife met in the United States when he was here working.  They married, had two sons and eventually moved to New Zealand where they lived a comfortable life.  He worked; she was a stay-at-home mother.  But one day the couple had an argument that Cossey characterizes as very minor.  The next day he received a call at work.  It was his wife telling him she was leaving and taking the children.

She did just that, fleeing to Auckland and catching a plane to the U.S. that very night.

Cossey filed the appropriate claim in New Zealand requesting the return of his children, but nothing happened.  Officials in neither country managed to enforce the provisions of the convention to which both countries were parties.

Eventually, at wits end, Cossey returned to the United States just so he could have some contact with his children.  Apparently he still had a visa allowing him to work, so he’s done that while trying to assert his parental rights in family court.

“Thankfully I am able to legally reside in the US permanently, otherwise I would have lost all contact with my children by now,” he says.

It hasn’t been easy.  So far he gets the one-size-fits-all custody arrangement – i.e. she has custody, he has visitation two days out of two weeks, except he can’t see his kids without supervision.  Why?  You know the answer without my telling you.

His estranged wife has also filed charges of domestic violence and sexual molestation of the boys against him – allegations he calls “ridiculous”. His wife did not return calls from APNZ.

Simple as that.  The Hague Convention requires signatory countries to return children within 60 days of the filing of a complaint.  I’ve complained many times about the behavior of, for example Mexico, due to its frank refusal to comply with the Convention it signed.  But here’s a case in which the United States is doing the same thing.

Of course it is.  In this country, mere allegations of child abuse or domestic violence are sufficient to take a father out of his child’s life at least for a time.  In Cossey’s case it’s been three years and counting with the exception of the supervised visits.  Is there a single shred of evidence to support his wife’s claims?  If there is, the article doesn’t mention it, and she let her opportunity to make her case in print go by.

But as we know, and as Cossey has certainly learned, family courts don’t need evidence to take a father from a child.  What we also know is that child abduction is itself a form of child abuse, and it’s pretty clear that Cossey’s kids have experienced just that.

It was a tearful first reunion, he says. “The kids didn’t know what was going on. The entire event was pretty traumatic for them.”

So what we have is a court that looks at a mother’s unsupported allegations of abuse and (a) refuses to enforce the Hague Convention and (b) only allows their father the most limited of supervised visitation.  It looks at the same kids who’ve plainly been abused by their mother’s abduction of them and her denial of contact with their father, and gives the thumbs up.  That’s bad for children and it violates the Hague Convention, but why would a family court be concerned about that?

So far the whole thing has cost him $70,000.

Grant Cossey, welcome to the United States.  Get comfortable, it looks like a long stay.

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Japan: Foreign minister to take charge of locating kids in international custody rows


Source: The Mainichi Daily News

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s foreign minister will be responsible for collecting information on children abducted to the country by one of their parents in determining their whereabouts and settling cross-border custody disputes as a result of failed international marriages, according to newly compiled guidelines made available to Kyodo News on Sunday.

The guidelines compiled by the Foreign Ministry in preparation for Tokyo’s accession to an international treaty that sets procedures for the settlement of international child custody disputes state that the foreign minister can seek the help of local governments, police, schools, childcare facilities and shelters for abused people to determine the whereabouts of children in such cases.

The government is aiming to submit a bill to parliament in March to endorse the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and have it enacted during the 150-day regular parliamentary session to be convened Tuesday.

The bill will state that a central authority will be established at the Foreign Ministry to locate children wrongfully removed or retained by one parent and secure their voluntary return in response to requests made by the other parent, according to government officials.

The guidelines state that those requested by the foreign minister to provide information on abducted children will be required to do so “without any delay.”

The foreign minister could also inform parents abroad and their former spouses who have abducted children to Japan about the system of mediation by Japanese courts as a way to resolve their disputes, according to the guidelines.

The planned submission of the bill to endorse the Hague Convention based on the ministry’s guidelines is in line with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s pledge to U.S. President Barack Obama during their talks in November. Around 10 countries including the United States have been pressing Japan to join the treaty.

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight major countries yet to join the convention after Russia acceded to it in July. At present, 87 countries are parties to the treaty, which came into effect in 1983.

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Child Custody and Parental Abduction – When good people get bad legal advice


Source: This Lemonade Life Blog

The Author of this blog don`t want to share her experience with other parents in risk of International Parental Child Abduction trough our blog. We just have to respect that and remove the content.

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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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Parental Abduction – How bad can it be?


Leading experts believe that due to the rapid growth in multi-national marriages and relationships, the number of children born from parents of different countries will continue to expand.

Similar to all relationships, a significant portion of these marriages or partnerships will end in divorce. All too often, one of the separating parents of the child of the relationship will seek to abduct the child to a country other than where the child has lived. This is called ‘International Parental Child Abduction’, and though there are various civil remedies available to targeted parents who have had their child abducted, the challenges they face are grave, and include first and foremost, locating where the child is located.

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Hungary accused of failing to enforce Hague Convention orders


Hungary accused of failing to enforce Hague Convention orders, writes Carol Coulter

WHEN FAMILY disputes arise, or sometimes when there is a dispute between parents and state child care authorities, it occasionally happens that a parent flees the jurisdiction with the child.

This eventuality is covered by The Hague Convention on Child Abduction, to which most countries outside the Islamic world are signatories.

The Irish authorities processed 233 cases relating to international child abduction in 2010, of which 140 were new applications.

Many were subsequently either withdrawn or settled by consent. In 25 cases the children were ordered to be returned to the state from which they had been abducted.

Usually when a child has been wrongfully removed from his or her normal place of residence by a parent and a court orders his or her return, the child is produced and the return takes place in an orderly manner. If this does not happen, the Garda have the power to arrest the parent concerned and secure the child’s return.

However, it may not happen so smoothly in all jurisdictions. An Irish father, Dr Leslie Shaw, is still seeking the return of his daughter Fiona from Hungary more than three years after she was removed from the family home in France by her mother, despite the fact that the Hungarian courts have ordered the return of the child.

He is now seeking the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and of the European Commission to have the orders seeking Fiona’s return enforced.

He is also seeking to draw international attention to what he claims is the flouting by Hungary of international law.

His lawyer, Laurent Hinkler, has written to the parliamentary members of the Council of Europe, the parent body of the ECHR, drawing their attention to the “violation of the law of the European Union, of private international law and the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Fiona was abducted in December 2007 by her mother Krisztina Orosz and her father immediately took proceedings in Pest, Hungary, seeking her return under The Hague Convention. The court granted his application. This decision was unsuccessfully appealed by Ms Orosz, ultimately to the Hungarian Supreme Court, which confirmed the order in November 2008.

Meanwhile, the French courts had established Fiona’s habitual residence as that of her father in France and granted him sole parental authority in April 2008. It also authorised him to exercise his parental rights in Hungary.

In March 2009 the French courts issued a European Arrest Warrant for Ms Orosz to face child abduction charges. She was arrested on July 27th, 2009, and brought to the High Court in Budapest. However, Dr Shaw’s legal representatives were not informed and she was immediately released and then went into hiding with their daughter.

The French magistrate then issued an international letter rogatory, a request for mutual legal assistance, outlining 14 specific measures sought by the French authorities to obtain the return of the child. A representative of the French prosecutorial service went to Hungary seeking to have them implemented.

According to Mr Hinkler, this initiative was unsuccessful because the Hungarian authorities refused to execute 13 of the 14 points requested. A second European Arrest Warrant and a further international letter rogatory issued in July 2010 likewise remained without effect, he stated.

“These manifest and deliberate failings of the Hungarian authorities resulted in Fiona and her mother going into and remaining in hiding since July 2009. Furthermore, the child has not attended school since October 2008,” he said in his letter to the Council of Europe.

“The refusal of Hungary to respect the statutory objective of the Council of Europe (article 1(a) ‘to achieve a greater unity between its members’) by recognizing the decisions of the French courts is extremely perilous for Fiona, whose health, safety and education are gravely compromised.”

In response to a number of questions from The Irish Times, a spokesman for the Hungarian ministry of public administration and justice said: “On the basis of a letter rogatory issued by the High Court of Paris, further legal proceedings were enacted against Krisztina Orosz on charges of child abduction between February 2010 and September 2010. Under the supervision of the prosecution service, the Hungarian police took all possible action within its competency to ensure enforcement.”

Referring to its refusal to execute the European Arrest Warrant, it said that at the time the Hungarian authorities were also bringing a prosecution against Ms Orosz on the same charges, and this meant it could refuse the request.

The case illustrates the fact that the smooth functioning of The Hague Convention requires wholehearted commitment to the mutual enforcement of orders on the part of contracting states.

Even if the law and the culture relating to child welfare issues vary from country to country, as they do, the essence of the convention is that the child’s place of habitual residence is where that welfare should be decided, in accordance with that state’s laws.

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