Oman is a country not regularly featured in child abduction recovery news but it is a country of concern. Located in the Middle East, Oman is not a signatory to the Hague Convention and left behind parents are encouraged to engage local attorneys. From our experience foreign nationals trying to recover their children from courts in countries like these don’t stand a chance.
The abduction of a child to Oman is NOT a crime in Oman unless there is an Omani court order regarding custody of the child or travel restrictions. Parental child abduction is, however, a criminal offence in Oman. If a parent or grandparent removes a child from the person who is entitled to custody according to an Omani judicial decision will be liable to a term of imprisonment from six months to three years, and a fine ranging from RO 10 to RO 500 (Omani Rial).
We are always asked by parents wondering if they should let their partner take their children to visit family. If the family are located in the Middle East we always reply no way. The legal system will always favour the Abductor and with countries like Oman, not being party to the Hague Convention, there will be nothing you can do.
One of the most high profile cases regarding Oman is the abduction of Aishah and Faris now aged 12 and 9, abducted 5 years ago from their English mother by their father to his family in Oman. In 5 years she has had little phone contact with her children but over time they have slowly been indoctrinated to believe their mother is the guilty party.
Lacey Plato, the children’s mother, has relentlessly exhausted all avenues in the English Courts. This has seen the father jailed for the abduction of the children and most recently jailed for 12 months for contempt of court. The judge ruled that the father can be released from jail at any time, on the condition he returns the children to England.
However this father is happy to sit out his second stint in jail instead of doing the right thing and reuniting these children with their mother. The father claims that his family have the children and he is controlled by his own father who refuses to return the children.
Lacey is a mother in her 30’s that after 5 years still has her children’s toys waiting for them and continues to fight every system she can. She still holds hope that one day she will bring her children home to the UK. Despite having the full support of the UK legal system her hands are tied.
We often see cases where extended families of the abductor aid and abet abduction but even we have to say this case is a first where we have seen the abductor jailed twice and yet his family continue to hide the children away, disregarding the relationship they have with their mother.
What we find a common thread is that not only Abductors regard their children with a sense of ownership but so do their families. Abducted children are often left in the care of the Abductors relatives and together the abducting family will take every step to keep them one step ahead of the law. They are well aware what they will get away with in their own country and will exploit that. They believe that they are entitled to the child and the left behind parent is disregarded like yesterday’s paper.
Lacey’s case in particular demonstrates the strength of the Abductor and their family. They have a determination to do whatever it takes to maintain ownership of the children. We use the word ownership as they do not consider the feelings of Lacey’s children, nor do they value to the bond between mother and child. Lacey’s case also demonstrates as most cases do, that the Hague Convention and or any other court system continues to fail parents time and time again to have illegally abducted children returned to their habitual residence.
Our thoughts are with Lacey and her children and we hold on to the hope that one day soon they will all be reunited.