Turkey is party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It signed the Hague convention on Jan. 21, 1998, and the convention entered the Turkish domestic code on Feb. 15, 2000, when it was published in Turkey’s Official Gazette.
Turkey signed the convention, but accepted Article 26 — governing costs — with modifications. This article stipulates that each government shall bear its own costs in applying the convention. Turkey has modified it as follows, “The Turkish Republic shall not pay judicial [including court proceedings] expenses, legal counsel, lawyers’ fees or any kind of expense or fee regarding the return of the child.” According to this amendment, Turkey’s government shall not be responsible for paying for the parties’ lawyers or other counsel’s costs; however, all other aspects of the convention have been incorporated into the Turkish legal code.
Turkey has a record of failing to comply with international norms concerning the return of internationally abducted children and The Hague Abduction Convention.
Courts in Turkey have frequently insisted that a Hague case requires the courts to conduct a full and lengthy “best interests” evaluation. Such practices are in flagrant disregard of the treaty, which requires that courts must not consider “best interests” and must return wrongfully removed or retained children so that the courts of the habitual residence of the children may decide what is best for them.
Furthermore a return under the Hague Convention should normally occur within six weeks of the initiation of a case but the Turkish record is that it generally takes one year or often far more than that for a return to take place. Even if successful through The Hague Convention, you than have to deal with finding your children after the abductor decides to ignore the court rulings and go on the run usually within Turkey but sometimes in a neighboring country.
The European Court of Human Rights (the “ECHR”) has ruled on at least two separate occasions that Turkey has violated the human rights of left-behind parents by failing to return children who were abducted to Turkey.
On March 5, 2012 the ECHR rendered a ruling in that Turkey had violated its obligations to a father residing in the United States whose Turkish wife took their daughter for a visit to Turkey in 2007 and failed and refused to bring her back. In plain violation of the Hague Convention the Turkish courts had made a best interests ruling in the father’s Hague case. At first instance and on appeal they had held that it was best for the child to stay in Turkey. The ECHR ruled that Turkey had thereby violated the treaty.
Unfortunately the only result of the ruling – after close to five years of litigation — was that the Government of Turkey was required to pay a nominal sum of damages to the left-behind father, but that the child remained in Turkey. In another case the ECHR ruled that Turkey violated the rights of a left-behind Icelandic mother to have access to her children in Turkey. The mother had travelled to Turkey from Iceland on more than 100 separate occasions to try to see her children but these efforts had been entirely unsuccessful because the father had hidden the children each time and the Turkish authorities had failed to take any meaningful measures to assist her. Again the result was merely a fine.
On May 24, 2011 an American mother testified before the United States House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee that she had allowed the child’s Turkish father to take their son from their home in Ohio to Turkey for a family visit; that the father had provided her with a round trip travel itinerary; that he had given her a signed, notarized statement promising to return with the child on the stated dates; and that he had nonetheless kept the child in Turkey. She testified as to enormous efforts to get her child home – all of which had been entirely unsuccessful – and to her consequential emotional distress and devastation.
In yet another case, a child was abducted from Israel to Turkey in 2004 by her mother. The left-behind father promptly sought the child’s return under the Hague Convention. The Turkish authorities eventually ordered the child’s return. The case went on appeal to the ECHR, which upheld the return order. At that stage the mother hid the child in Turkey and the Turkish authorities failed to find her for two years. Only then – four years after the abduction and only after an enormously expensive series of court battles and after the father had traveled to Turkey more than fifty times – was the child ultimately returned.
Since the court system in Turkey in Hague cases has improperly allowed a abducting parent to demand a full plenary best interests analysis, the abducting parent invariably has had ample opportunity to create “facts on the ground” in terms of getting the child sufficiently settled into life in Turkey as to justify a Turkish court in ultimately deeming that it is best to keep the child in Turkey.
In 99.9% of cases CARI deal with on behalf of our clients who have had their children abducted to Turkey, all the abductors refuse to adhere to court rulings as once again, NO ONE ENFORCES the court’s decisions. This makes it extremely saddening and frustrating for left behind parents who battle the courts over a large amount of time only to be kicked in the stomach one more time by the system. CARI’s experience working with authorities in Turkey shows that having someone on the ground doing the foot work, meeting with the appropriate authorities often pushes the authorities to assist in helping CARI enforce the court’s rulings.
Simply sending request after request by phone or email by lawyers, or others to the appropriate authorities in most cases the police will not cut it in Turkey.
With Turkey being a favorite holiday destination with many countries, the number of cases CARI – Child Abduction Recovery International is and will deal with, will only go Northwards…….
Please contact CARI if your children have been abducted to Turkey for a free no obligation consultation. We can also recommend after working with them the leading law firm dealing with International Child Abduction in Turkey, ‘Akinci Law Firm’ http://akincilaw.com/law-practice…/international-family-law/.
Do not waste your time and money on an inexperienced law firm…..
Tip: Keep hold of your children’s passports if you have any suspicions that the other parent is planning an abduction. A couple of very common (not limited to the below) excuses the abductor will use;
1. Your child’s Turkish grandparent is sick and wishes to see the children in Turkey before they get worse or pass away.
2. Usually the Turkish father convinces the foreign mother to bring their child to visit him or family members in Turkey. Once in Turkey the child(ren) are taken/snatched off the mother and retained in Turkey, travel banns are put on the child(ren) immediately by the Turkish father, than the nightmare begins! Travel bans are extremely easy and quick to put on children in Turkey. This means your child will not be allowed out of Turkey without the father’s permission or unless the courts remove it, which will only happen after you win The Hague Convention approximately 2 – 3 years later!
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this article.