When children are abducted by the other parent and taken overseas, it is terrifying and overwhelming for the left behind parent. In almost all cases the parent that is desperately seeking their child has no knowledge or contacts in the Abductors country and find it hard to know where to start.
They begin by contacting the local authorities in their home country and quickly realise that there is nothing that can be done. Usually the next step is contacting the Embassy in the abducting parent’s country. It comes as a shock to many parents that the Embassy cannot and will not assist in any way.
In the case of Michelle Littleton, her children were abducted to Lebanon 12 months ago and only now are US Senators are demanding the US Embassy in Lebanon provide some assistance whereas previously these please have fallen on deaf ears.
Lacey Plato has continually battled to receive support from the UK Embassy in Oman as they will not get involved in her attempt to recover her children who have been held there by their grandparents for over 5 years.
Sally Faulkner, despite the high publicity of the abduction of her children to Lebanon, still does not receive adequate support from the Australian Embassy with her request for a welfare check on her children evaded by the abducting parent and not followed up.
In our own experience in almost every case we have found the left behind parent has received no support from any Embassy or consular staff. In the case where we recovered Morgan from Laos, the British consulate in Laos bluntly told our client in our presence “The only way you are going to get your son out of this country is by alternative measures”, there was absolutely nothing they could or would do. Recently we have taken on a new case where a consulate staff in the abductors country have offered to supply passports but will not give any other help as they were concerned that their involvement may create a threat to the relations between the two countries.
That there is the key statement. Embassies are focused on nurturing the relationship of the country that they are based in and this always takes precedence over an abducted child. As long as IPCA is not universally recognised as a crime this will not change.
Yet the consulate is always the first port of call when a left behind parent starts to undertake efforts to recover their child from the abductors country. If they are lucky they may be supplied with a list of recommended lawyers for the country but that will be as far as the support will go.
Parents are at this point feeling isolated and desperate as there is a general misconception that an embassy will always support a home citizen in that foreign country, particularly children. This may happen in the movies where it is often depicted that an Embassy will come to you rescue but in the real world it is nothing like this! Parents need to understand and accept from the outset – they will not receive any of the help that they expect from consulate staff.
Embassies are too busy ensuring that their home country is perceived in a good light and that export and import economies between the two countries remain firm and prosperous. They are there to keep friendly relations between the two countries and provide token gestures to citizens of their home country in need. Children that have been abducted to that country are far down the list of priorities for an embassy.