Thailand – International Parental Child Abduction

Thailand is a signatory to the Hague Treaty on Child Abduction and enforcement is made through the Thailand Attorney General Office. However, Thailand has not yet enacted an internal law that affirms legal implementation of the Hague Treaty statutes. Thailand’s legal system involves a two-tiered process for new laws, and the statutes of the Hague Treaty have not yet gone through the second process to become a part of Thailand’s internal legal system.

What this means is that it can be more difficult to use the HCCH to seek Thailand’s help in returning a child who has been abducted from another country and taken to Thailand. The Thai police and other local law enforcement agencies might be reluctant to provide their assistance, as in Thai culture this kind of scenario might be considered as private business to be handled between family members.

If an individual does need assistance in locating and seeking the return of a child from Thailand, they may need to enlist the services of a local investigator in Thailand. Once the child has been located, the individual may then have to file with the Thai Family Court to seek return of the child.

In  other cases, when a child is abducted from within Thailand and taken to another country, if that country is a signatory state and has implemented the HCCH statutes then an individual may be able to obtain assistance from Thailand’s Attorney General in contacting the central authority of the other state. If the  other state already has HCCH procedures in place, then it is more likely that a  faster solution can be found to located the child and ensure the child is returned to Thailand.

In 2010, for those children abducted from the UK to a Non Hague Convention country, the most frequent destinations were Pakistan, India, Egypt and Thailand.


Fact, Fiction, and the US State Department Website

There are certain inaccuracies on the US State Department’s Website on “International Parental Child Abduction Thailand”. On such inaccuracy can be found on the first page, in the first paragraph:

Parental Kidnapping is not a crime in Thailand and Thai authorities will not issue a warrant or become involved should one parent take a child without the other parent’s authorization.” 

In actuality there are laws concerning child abduction and child custody laws in Thailand. Child abduction inThailandis covered by Section 317 of the Thailand Criminal Code, which states:

“Whoever, without any reasonable cause, takes away a child not yet over fifteen years of age from the parent, guardian, or person looking after such child, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years and fined of six thousand to thirty thousand baht.”

A case for child abduction begins with a court filing for sole custody of the abducted child. Once sole custody is attained, if the non-custodial parent has abducted the child, the suite may become a criminal case. A Thailand lawyer can file a claim on behalf of parents to establish custody rights over the child in question. The motion in the Thai courts can force the offending parent to appear in court in Thailand, and the custodial parent may assert parental rights.

Thailand and the Hague Convention

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 action to ensue.

“The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction cannot be invoked if a child is taken from the United States to Thailand, or vice versa, by one parent against the wishes of the other parent or in violation of a U.S. custody order.

This statement gives the mistaken impression that Thailand does not recognize the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is untrue; Thailand is has formally acceded to the convention but as yet the proper procedures for acting upon the convention have not been codified into Thai law. The convention, like the topics of surrogacy and IVF, fall 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 above.

Some Q & A on International Parental Child Abduction and Thailand;

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

A: The first thing a parent must do if a child has been abducted is to contact a qualified Thailand family law attorney and make a police report. A qualified attorney will assist with filing the necessary complaints with legal authorities. Based on the circumstances of each case, a family attorney may file a police report with the relevant embassy in Thailand, or file a formal request pursuant to the Hague Treaty. A Thai Family Law Attorney can file a court complaint with the Thailand family court. If criminal charges are involved, a criminal complaint may also be required.

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

A: 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, falls into an ambiguous area of Thailand law. In certain cases of child abduction originating in Thailand, wherein the child has been taken to a different that is a Hague connection signatory, a Hague Convention action may be filed through the relevant government authorities of the country. However, in cases where a child has been abducted and taken to Thailand, the aggrieved parents’ remedy may be through obtaining a court order from the Thai family court. Cases need to be examined individually.

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

A: 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 established custody rights of the child in Thailand Family Courts. A court order of sole custody can then be used by the aggrieved parent to obtain the return of the child. Such action can be enforced by Thailand court and police officials. Depending on the circumstances, a police complaint may also be necessary.

One such case is of Sean Felton a UK man who struggled with no help to recover his son in Thailand after he was abducted by his mother from the UK……..Sean went on and wrote a book about his story which is a must read for any parent.  Sean is the now the founder of a wonderful non-profit organisation in the UK called, Abducted Angels. All staff have been victims of Parental Child Abduction and offer support and assistance in raising money to help victim parents. They are the only non-profit organisation in the UK who offer support in raising funds to help parents recover their children.

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‘Scared of the Dark’

Scared of the Dark is the true story of Sean Felton’s epic struggle to find his young son, Jobe, after he was kidnapped by his mother and held ransom in Thailand. Following the break-up of his marriage, Sean was sent reeling when his ex-wife disappeared with Jobe. Her actions made Sean acutely aware of just how limited a father’s rights are in the wake of the mother deciding to sever all contact. Sean saw that he had no support, no guidance and no legal or financial weight behind him. He would have to battle on alone, relying on his own courage and determination to rescue his own son. Scared of the Dark reveals Sean’s painful and arduous journey, the lengths he was forced to go to and the risks he had to take. He used Facebook to successfully hunt down his child, but at his lowest point, Sean feared that Jobe had been sold into the sex trade by his mother and that he would never see him again. Sean Felton has endured every parent’s worst nightmare, but he fought back, was finally reunited with his son and is now proud to have lived to share his story with other parents who continue to suffer as he did. Scared of the Dark is the unflinching, devastating and inspirational story of the triumph of a father’s love over adversity. Sean hopes that this book will help raise awareness of the plight of stolen children and the grieving loved ones leave behind. Today Sean is a tireless campaigner for parents with abducted children around the world and the founder of Abducted Angels


The Bottom Line

Child abduction cases in Thailand are far more complicated than many authorities give them credit for, as a variety of factors come into play that may affect the retrieval of the abducted child. In the event of such a serious crime, parents must seek legal counsel from an experienced Thailand attorney to learn about the options available to them.

CARI has operated numerous times in helping clients recover their abducted children from Thailand.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Spencer says:

    As a British Citizen whose child was abducted from Thailand to Singapore, i can say that the Thai Central Authority firstly evaded pulling out the application form to apply for a Hague Mandate, and said come back n ext week as they don’t have any of the application forms at all in the building (meaning the central authority exists as a body, but that they haven’t implemented anything yet, and are just twiddling their thumbs, pretending to comply with their promises when they signed the treaty. In addition, the Thai Royal Police Obliviously assisted in the abduction by taking the other parent and my child to the airport and helping her to leave, after i had specifically told the police that the child should not be taken out of the country without my signature. I have a copy of the police report and an affidavit of the abducting parent which states she left the country with child with knowledge of the police. i took the evidence to 3 different lawyers, all of whom told me they refuse to take up issue for me and to be careful because i am stepping on deadly territory to accuse the police (they would kill me, and the lawyers are too afraid to fight such a case.)
    I would say if you are a foreigner and your child is abducted in Thailand or TO Thailand, you have no chance. Thailand joined the hague in 2007 if i remember correctly, and Singapore in 2010. It is now 2017, and neither of those countries have approached each other for a bi-lateral agreement. If no bilateral agreement is made between member states, no Hague Mandate can be issued. However, i didn’t even get that far, as the central authority didn’t even have any application forms to fill in.!!!. These countries sign the Hague to evade sanctions, but they do not comply with the guidelines of the Hague treaty. Nor do they make a single effort in 9 years to approach other later acceding countries for bilateral agreements. The Hague is there to eat public funds, but it does not have any effectivity. Only organisms like CARI unfortunately, can help in most cases. And i bet its cheaper in the end, i will have spent a good 100,000$ US on this case, and all i got out of it was 2.5 years of retention of my child, and then a Singaporean Judges ruling that the child is denied his right to article 13 (1 and 2) of the World Commission on the Rights of the Child (right to enter and leave one’s own country). The child is now forbidden to leave Singapore until 2. 5 years from now, completing a 5 year period without visits with his dad.. that was the Singaporean Judge’s idea of solving parental alienation and retention…
    The Singaporeans also firstly deleted a Guardianship of Infants Act Case i filed, and claimed that i had given verbal permission to remove it, and pushed the case into a local domestic divorce and custody instead. This was because a GIA case would make the story be included in the annual U.N. report on International Parental Child Abduction. But to put it through as domestic divorce and take the abduction out of it, lets Singapore keep the matter out of their compulsory yearly report to the U.N. hence appearing that no abductions occurred in that year, and nothing to explain to the U.N.
    I tried with three different lawyers to get them to sue the Judge for perjury and manipulation of justice, but no lawyer in Singapore would accept the commission, and warned me against it when i said i will act in person if no one will help me.
    Since then, I made some websites and campaigns about the injustice, which Singaporean Justice then warned me to delete and hide, if not, i would not be seeing my son again.
    They silence critics, and have ruled i must visit singapore three times in the next 2.5 years if i want my son to be able to visit me after his tenth birthday.
    This is because they know I am posting info on the internet to expose their wrongdoings, and if i have to go to Singapore sometimes, then they will arrest me and imprison me, as they did with the English Blogger Alan Shadrake, was convicted in Singapore in 2010 of contempt of court for scandalising the Singapore judicial system, through his published views on the country’s criminal justice system, sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment and a fine of $20,000
    And so by their rulings, they have been clever to try to prevent me from posting any exposure on their misdeeds for a further 2.5 years if i want to keep seeing my son. However, i wont shut up with these people who put their own political clean face in the U.N. above the welfare of children, and have failed to discourage International Parental Child Abduction by handing over custody to the mother, who has physically harmed the child on various occasions and once tried to kill herself and take my child with her, on the theory that they belong together forever.

    All to keep the matter hidden from the UN. I had to switch off my iPetitions and FB campaign pages, if not i wont see my son again. But i defy them, and have published some websites which i shall continue to publish on, and like to share and support the CARI Project as much as possible. it isn’t a perfect solution, but it is the better of two evils. better to let CARI give one last shock to the child than to let the child be subjected to a lifetime of parental alienation, and brainwashing, and abuse.

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