International Child Abduction: State Department’s Response

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In part one of the two part series titled International Child Abduction, we discussed the issue and advocates concern about the priority level it has been given and desire that more pressure be placed on countries like Japan and India to sign the international Hague Convention. The Hague Convention facilitates the return of children wrongfully removed from their habitual country of residence sometime before, during or after child custody proceedings.

The State Department has taken a lot of criticism for their role in closing international child abduction cases and has been blamed for not focusing enough attention and resources on the problem. The department has responded in defense of the allegations, arguing that the issue is more complicated than most people might understand.

The State Department reported an increase in the number of officials who handle the abduction cases. They say that in just three years, they have increased the number from 18 to more than 65 workers dedicated to the cases. A bill is currently in the works, and backed by a N.J. Congressman, that if passed, would create an Office on International Child Abductions that would have the ability to impose sanctions on countries who fail to cooperate.

But staffing resources is not the only issue, the State Department says. Getting Japan and India to cooperate is difficult because of their own legal structures and the issues that they believe are involved with the abductions. India, for example, does not honor U.S. child custody orders nor does it recognize international child abduction as a crime. Japan has contemplated signing the convention in the past, but claims that their goal is to protect Japanese women from foreign, abusive husbands. They see the removal of the children first as a way for Japanese women to find safe haven and not immediately as a crime.

While some advocates consider the reasons given by Japan and India as a front for their desire to exert their own jurisdiction, admitting a “front” may not will them to comply. Seeking an experienced advocate is the first step any parent can take.

Source: msnbc “Japan, India pressed to curb child abductions” David Crary 12/7/10

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