Family law Attorney Patricia Apy and three organizers and parents of children internationally abducted from the United States gave testimony today in the U.S. Congress at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, chaired by Christopher Smith of New Jersey. The topic of the day, ” Resolving International Parental Child Abductions to Non-Hague Convention Countries” concerns Japanese International Parental Child Abductions as well as others, and the path pursued by the U.S. Department of State to seek to force parents into supporting their children’s abductors and submitting to the courts and government that offer the abductors safe haven.
In a brief statement with many highlights, Ms. Apy pointedly stated :
Japan: The current status of the resolution of existing abduction cases and the promise of the ratification of the Hague Abduction Convention must be considered illusory at best and deceptive at worst… This (Japanese) legislation expressly encourages self help and potentially criminal behavior by assuring the abducting parent a safe haven where Japanese parents know that they will not be prosecuted. “
With regard to the Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, which is the sole government agency responsible for the management and pursuit of the interests of U.S. parents of internationally abducted children, she said:
“Actions of OCI/ State Department Japan Desk: Parents who have pending abduction matters have been sent, from time to time, “urgent” time- sensitive updates , repeatedly announcing the proximity of the Hague ratification and the launch of various “Hague Convention pilot programs”… .Keeping in mind, that this is going to desperate parents, who have had no contact with their children in years the “encouragement” to participate by our government “ in preparation for joining the Hague Abduction Convention” seems as though advocacy for the left behind parent is about to occur. In fact, parents were “encouraged” to abandon their request for the return of their abducted children and to offer to support the abducting parents with financial assistance.
She is completely correct in this assessment of the actions of the State Department.
Ms. Apy also reminded those listening that criminal prosecution of crime is a policy of government, which forms a part of the basis of the rule of law:
“Particularly in addressing the threat of international abduction to Non Treaty countries the partnership of the FBI and the United States Attorney is crucial… I propose that where the child has been located, and indictments issued, the message to the foreign government must demonstrate that here in the United States we value our children and will work tirelessly for the return of every abducted child. The actions of the United States attorney in prosecuting pursuant to the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act makes it clear that international parental kidnapping is a crime and should be treated as such.”
This is a matter of crime and punishment, but the US and Japan have colluded in making conspiracy to internationally abduct children and provide safe haven for abductors in Japan into a “civil” matter – a matter of private, family concern, rather than a police matter.
This is a grievous, unbearable wrong. Child abduction, a gravely serious, child-abusive crime, must be treated as crime – and punishment unfortunately provides certain manifest advantages.
“Punishment strongly affirms the rule of law and the norms that protect human rights. Even if liberal legal institutions are not yet in place, the very aspiration to seek punishment can sometimes summon them into existence… It restores a victim’s sense of dignity and worth, thereby preempting the tendency of victims to seek their own revenge. Punishment separates collective guilt from individual guilt, thus ending seemingly endless cycles of group recrimination. It functions as an effective insurance against future repression.”
from “Human Rights in Political Transitions” by Carol Hesse and Robert Post.
Find a .pdf of Patricia Apy’s testimony, brief and well-worth reading in its entirety, here: