International Child Abduction: Broken Laws and Bereaved Lives

In Washington on December 24th, 2011 a hearing entitled International Child Abduction: Broken Laws and Bereaved Lives took place at a subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  [See it here on CRN.]  Or, [see it here on CSPAN.] All of the speakers were superb, and Congressman  Chris Smith was extremely sharp, energetic, and well-informed about this tragic problem. The hearing is well worth viewing. My hope is that it will produce the beginnings of some  level of commitment from the US Government to help us save our kids from being abducted and taken abroad. Congressman Smith proposed the creation of a new office for handling international child abductions due to the extraordinary increase in incidence of this crime, and the  excessive conflict of interest that has rendered the Department of State at best  ineffectual on this issue for decades. Congressman Smith also proposed a new resolution, House Resolution 1940, which is designed to bring economic sanctions to offending countries, like Japan.

International law and child custody attorneys and parents whose children were abducted to Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Turkey, Japan and Russia testified at on American children who were abducted and taken to other countries. Among the highlights were David Goldman’s testimony which sharply called on the Government of the United States to afford to all Left Behind Parents a comparable level of involvement to that which he received in the recovery of his son, Sean. He read  a letter  from the members of the Bring Sean Home Foundation and BAC Home to Secretary of State Clinton into the Congressional Record, beseeching and demanding a transformation of efforts to rescue our children from their abductors.

For us of course, it was very moving to hear Michael Elias’s testimony on the situation his family was subjected to by the Government of Japan, and the lack of support afforded to him by the United States. Michael read  into the record the names of the children still not located in Japan since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011, including my son Rui Prager.

Probably the most information and argument-rich testimony came from Atrorney Patricia Apy in the third panel.  She has represented both David Goldman and Michael Elias, and spoke very concisely and directly to the problem, policy changes and mode of attack which are required, now, in order to begin safeguarding the rights of American kids in the face of the on-going attack from Japan. She did not mince words.

The final highlight was the Congressman’s decision to read from  a two page document written by members of BAC Home, my comrades.

The speakers :

Here is another link to the hearing.

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