I’m pleased to report that Senator Barbara Boxer of California introduced a resolution today (August 2, 2012 ) to condemn International Parental Child Abduction, asking that more be done to prevent and resolve our children’s abduction cases. In introducing the resolution, she and fellow Senators Lautenberg, Kerry, Lugar, and Inhofe are responding to the frustration and angst of all of us who are parents of internationally kidnapped children. The nightmare continues; but we can at minimum wish that the strong language in this resolution be followed by concrete steps to restore our children’s rights and homes.
Please consider doing this for our kids: Click on the download links below, save a copy of Senator Boxer’s announcement, and / or those of BAC-Home and the Bring Sean Home Foundation, and send them to YOUR Senators (by mail and email) to encourage them to take notice of and offer support for this resolution for our kids. The more mail received, the more will they know that we care about Rui, that we are counting on them to become active in the cause of seeing our children brought home to their parents.
Find your Senator by clicking here.
Please let your government representatives know that our children are loved and require protection.
Thank you for your support!
Do it for love.
— — — — —
The text of Senator Boxer’s press release including the content of the Senate resolution is here:
BAC-Home (aka, Bring Abducted Children Home) has also posted a copy of the Senate Resolution:
As has the Bring Sean Home Foundation:
This is the text:
Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
|For Immediate Release:
August 2, 2012
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Boxer, Lautenberg, Kerry, Lugar, Inhofe Join Colleagues to Introduce Resolution Condemning International Parental Child Abduction
Bipartisan Resolution Calls on Countries to Do More to Prevent and Resolve Cases of Children Abducted by Parents Across International Borders
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today joined Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), James Inhofe (R-OK) and 10 colleagues to introduce a bipartisan resolution condemning the unlawful international abduction of all children. The resolution also calls on the United States and the international community to take additional steps to resolve current and future abduction cases.
Tragically, international parental child abduction continues to be a common occurrence. According to the U.S. Department of State, last year 1,367 American children were reported abducted by a parent from the United States to a foreign country.
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the principal tool for a parent seeking the return of a child abducted across international borders. The Convention provides a legal framework for securing the return of an abducted child so that judicial authorities can make decisions on issues of custody and the best interests of the child. However, many countries do not participate in the Hague Abduction Convention and the Convention does not apply to abductions that occur before a country joins.
The resolution calls on all countries to join and fully comply with the Hague Abduction Convention and to take other steps to prevent and resolve cases of international parental child abduction. The resolution also expresses the Sense of the Senate that the United States should “aggressively pursue the return of each child abducted by a parent from the United States to another country through all appropriate means, consistent with the Hague Abduction Convention, and through extradition, when appropriate, and facilitate access by the left-behind parent if the child is not returned.”
“These abductions are devastating for the parent who is left behind and are extremely harmful to the children involved,” Senator Boxer said. “I have met parents who have not seen or heard from their children in years, and this is simply unacceptable. The international community must be united in its condemnation of child abduction and in its commitment to resolve custody disputes by rule of law.”
“International child abduction is a tragic situation that impacts not only the parents who are left behind but also the children who have been illegally separated from them and denied any contact,” Senator Lugar said. “Bringing greater attention to this issue is important if we are to change other governments’ attitudes to these abductions.”
“Conservatives and liberals rarely agree, but on the issue of these child abductions, we see eye to eye,” Senator Inhofe said. “Unfortunately, some countries around the world are complicit in allowing these unacceptable acts. The heart wrenching stories I have heard from parents is not just devastating for them, but destructive for the children. It is time for the Senate to act in a way that will help end this injustice. This well written measure is a high priority. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join in this effort.”
“International child abductions aren’t faceless crimes, they’re real and they’re tragic,” Senator Kerry said. “Over the last two years, I’ve gotten to know Colin Bower, a Massachusetts father who had full legal custody of his two young sons and whose life was ripped apart when they were abducted and taken to Egypt. We’re still fighting and working to get his boys home and reunite them with their dad. If you know Colin, you know it’s almost a cliche to say that this is any parent’s worst nightmare and a tragic, all-too-real reminder of why the United States must condemn international abductions and work to resolve them. The international community must stand up and do all it can to make this right.”
“We saw firsthand the devastation that international child abductions cause for parents and children when New Jersey resident David Goldman had to fight for years to be reunited with his son Sean. We need to gain the support of countries around the world in condemning this practice and agreeing to cooperate in the return of abducted children. This resolution will help us prevent these tragedies in the future,” said Lautenberg, who was instrumental in helping the return of Sean Goldman from Brazil to his father in the United States.
In November 2009, Senator Boxer and 21 colleagues wrote to President Obama urging him to address international parental child abduction with Japanese leaders during a trip to the country. Japan remains the only G-7 industrialized nation that has yet to ratify the Hague Abduction Convention.
The resolution introduced today will help continue to raise the profile of this important issue in the United States and across the globe. Additional cosponsors of the resolution currently include Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The full text of the resolution is below.
To express the sense of the Senate on international parental child abduction.
Whereas international parental child abduction is a tragic and common occurrence;
Whereas the abduction of a child by one parent is a heartbreaking loss for the left-behind parent and deprives the child of a relationship with 2 loving parents;
Whereas, according to the Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of the United States Department of State from April 2010, research shows that abducted children are at risk of significant short- and long-term problems, including “anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, [and] aggressive behavior”;
Whereas, according to that report, left-behind parents may also experience substantial psychological and emotional issues, including feelings of “betrayal, sadness over the loss of their children or the end of their marriage, anger toward the other parent, anxiety, sleeplessness, and severe depression”, as well as financial strain while fighting for the return of a child;
Whereas, since 1988, the United States, which has a treaty relationship under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at The Hague October 25, 1980 (TIAS 11670) (referred to in this preamble as the “Hague Abduction Convention”) with 69 other countries, has agreed with its treaty partners to follow the terms of the Hague Abduction Convention;
Whereas the Hague Abduction Convention provides a legal framework for securing the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children to the countries of their habitual residence where competent courts can make decisions on issues of custody and the best interests of the children;
Whereas, according to the United States Department of State, the number of new cases of international child abduction from the United States increased from 579 in 2006 to 941 in 2011;
Whereas, in 2011, those 941 cases involved 1,367 children who were reported abducted from the United States by a parent and taken to a foreign country;
Whereas, in 2011, more than 660 children who were abducted from the United States and taken to a foreign country were returned to the United States;
Whereas 7 of the top 10 countries to which children from the United States were most frequently abducted in 2011 are parties to the Hague Abduction Convention, including Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia;
Whereas Japan, India, and Egypt are not parties to the Hague Abduction Convention and were also among the top 10 countries to which children in the United States were most frequently abducted in 2011;
Whereas, in many countries, such as Japan and India, international parental child abduction is not considered a crime, and custody rulings made by courts in the United States are not typically recognized by courts in those countries; and
Whereas Japan is the only member of the Group of 7 major industrialized countries that has not ratified the Hague Abduction Convention: Now, therefore, be it
(1) the Senate—
(A) condemns the unlawful international abduction of all children;
(B) urges countries identified by the United States Department of State as noncompliant or demonstrating patterns of noncompliance with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at The Hague October 25, 1980 (TIAS 11670) (referred to in this resolution as the “Hague Abduction Convention”) to fulfill their commitment under international law to expeditiously implement the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention;
(C) calls on all countries to accede to or ratify the Hague Abduction Convention and to promptly institute measures to equitably and transparently address cases of international parental child abduction; and
(D) calls on all countries that have not acceded to or ratified the Hague Abduction Convention to develop a mechanism for the resolution of current and future cases of international parental child abduction that occur before those countries accede to or ratify the Hague Abduction Convention in order to facilitate the prompt return of children abducted to those countries to the children’s countries of habitual residence; and
(2) it is the sense of the Senate that the United States should—
(A) aggressively pursue the return of each child abducted by a parent from the United States to another country through all appropriate means, consistent with the Hague Abduction Convention, and through extradition, when appropriate, and facilitate access by the left-behind parent if the child is not returned;
(B) take all appropriate measures to ensure that a child abducted to a country that is a party to the Hague Abduction Convention is returned to the country of habitual residence of the child in compliance with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention;
(C) continue to use diplomacy to encourage other countries to accede to or ratify the Hague Abduction Convention and to take the necessary steps to effectively fulfill their responsibilities under the Hague Abduction Convention;
(D) use diplomacy to encourage countries that have not acceded to or ratified the Hague Abduction Convention to develop an institutionalized mechanism to transparently and expeditiously resolve current and future cases of international child abduction that occur before those countries accede to or ratify the Hague Abduction Convention; and
(E) review the advisory services made available to United States citizens by the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, and other United States Government agencies—
(i) to improve the prevention of international parental child abduction from the United States; and
(ii) to ensure that effective and timely assistance is provided to United States citizens who are parents of children abducted from the United States and taken to foreign countries.
11 thoughts on “Senate Resolution: Resolve Cases of Children Abducted by Parents Across International Borders”
The U.S. is also slow to repatriate abducted children among Hague Treaty Nations.
After my then-6-year-old son was abducted and taken to Mexico in December 1992, I traveled to Mexico City to plead for his return via the Hague Convention Treaty. The response from the Central Authority director surprised me.
“The U.S. has a very poor record of returning children to Mexico as well,” he said with a cold, almost personal glare. I never forgot that.
Eventually, I realized the treaty would be of no help to me and I went on to privately recover my son in April 1993. It was a surreal rescue drama undertaken with the help of a specialized team, disguises, decoy car switches and a stealth flight in a small plane. My young son and I escaped under the noses of the Mexican military, flying 450 miles to Brownsville, Texas, through Mexican airspace.
In Brownsville, the FBI immediately detained and interrogated me, acting on frivolous allegations from Mexico City. Stunned, I was told that the U.S. agents intended to send my son back to Mexico with a Mexican consulate official.
My son is now an adult and I am still contacted for advice by left-behind parents; not only those of children taken to Mexico, but from parents who “hit a wall” trying to recover their children from the overwhelming complexities of the U.S. judicial system. I still think about what the Mexican diplomat said to me in Mexico City when I begged for my own son’s return from Mexico.
Here is something that our own system needs to consider while invoking better performance from other Hague Treaty nations.
What should take weeks turns into months and in some cases years as parents in other countries attempt to retrieve children abducted to the United States. Petitions drag through delays and appeals. The State Department’s own statistics demonstrate what should be serious concerns if the United States wants to lead by example.
A 2010 Compliance Report drafted by the State Department shows that parents filed 324 Hague Convention Treaty applications involving 454 children abducted to the United States from other treaty partner countries. The United States accounts for a staggering 23 percent of all incoming and outgoing caseload petitions. The report showed that we have the poorest record in terms of treaty-specified case resolutions for applications under the accord. We also have the highest ratio of pending cases awaiting resolution.
Hague Treaty guidelines call for expeditious proceedings within six weeks of the date of commencement, but the United States has no clear domestic policy guidelines to even determine if the cases should be heard by federal, state or local courts.
The second largest incoming Hague Treaty caseload, after the U.S., is the United Kingdom. Judicial returns in the U.K. were resolved in an average of 52 days and refusals averaged 96 days–a speed well under the global average. The U.K. also forwards applications to qualified judges within 24 hours after being received by the Central Authority. The global average for judicial returns is 125 days and 233 days for judicial refusal. The U.S. average for judicial return was granted in 154 days and judicial refusal in 285 days. The U.S. also accounts for one of the highest figures in pending cases that become stagnant in the system, through appeals and delays in decisions by the courts, offering the taking parent the upper hand in a judgment down the road, that the return of the child to the “home state” after such a long time would be too disruptive.
The U.S. should start keeping its side of the street clean before approaching other nations about poor compliance on Hague returns. This might be the single most important position where we can lead by example.
I got your message on For Rui Boy this evening.
Thanks for reading and responding; I am sorry for your story.
Just to be as clear as possible: the U.S. government as a whole, in my opinion and that of numerous parents of kidnapped children, is complicit in the kidnappings. I have nearly ZERO faith that the USG can be looked to for authentic help in international abductions. The officials who are assigned responsibility in this area have other, much more powerful interests and long-term career goals on behalf of which they serve, and their responses to abductions range from hand-on-cheek moral “concern” – which is always accompanied by professions of helplessness and surrender of sovereignty – to outright indifference. US diplomatocrats, those of the State Department primarily, desire to maintain smooth foreign relations for larger projects, and those projects need to be understood properly for what they are. But as far as authentic commitment to human rights, children’s rights, parents’ rights, I have very definite opinions and have done little more for two years than to research this and related topics while mourning the loss of my beloved son. You may be too busy, but if you can take a look around the For Rui Boy site, you will see some elements of my views of this. The United States does not have a defensible record on the defense of human rights in international affairs. The Hague Abduction Treaty is one among many; there is the UNCRC, CEDAW and many more. And frankly, I actually give little support to the concept of the U.S. pushing the Japanese to sign the Hague Convention before any stronger demands for the undoing of years of kidnappings occur, because once the Japanese sign, if and when they do, we parents will be in even worse shape legally than we are now, as the Japanese will then be given years during which to become “non-compliant”… after which, some of the interim cases might be addressed bureaucratically, if the trail has not gone too terribly cold in one or two cases and DOS and DOJ and the officials of that moment want to use them as showcases for their effectiveness. But it is difficult to maintain authentic hope, even though I have to keep on fighting to defend Rui. He is now two years gone, in the hands of people who don’t comprehend what kidnapping a child is, and so, ours is an excruciating agony.
So do I think the U.S. will lead by example in any form for respect for human rights, and children and parents’ rights in particular? No, I really do not.
Asking for support for the Senate resolution is a part of a long term effort to press a non-democratic, bought and paid for U.S. government to become responsive someday, and additionally, to create a maximally hostile atmosphere for the Japanese, to motivate them to change their current activist-state sponsorship of child abduction masked as custody determination, as I’ve previously expressed it here and around, many times.
Again, I’m glad you read, glad you responded, and hope you’ll continue to keep in touch with our issue.
And despite the grim picture, I hope you will push your Senators and ask your friends to do the same. We need to be a part of a wholesale change in order to create a structure in which children are valued and defended.
I just sent a copy of the resolution to my two senators asking for their support.
Thank you pal.
Brian, do you remember the name of the movie about the mother who hired a couple of mercenaries to grab her child off of a school bus in Jordan. And they were successful. I knew the family, but can’t think of the name of the movie or the family but was trying to find the dvd about it. I lived in Jordan for many years and remembering watching this movie on the Israeli channel. If you know, please tell me. Thanks.
Movie was called “Not Without My Child”.
This is really great and promising news!
It’s something that’s better than nothing! The more talk, resolutions, public statements, public campaigning, mail and internet postings, government friction and so on that happens, the better!
Yay — another chance to put it in front of our elected officials but the process is so slow….
Because there is no process …