Zero Enforcement in Hague Convention cases

The biggest issue by far for victim parents is the enforcement of court decisions. In 95% of CARI’s cases we simply enforce court rulings. 6 of our current cases alone are dealing with just that. This is the major problem for victim parents and an area that seems to be swept under the carpet as far as improvements in Hague and Non-Hague Convention countries laws. There are so many parents who go through all the legal routes (as advised by NGO’s and others) only to find once they are awarded custody or the courts have ruled in their favor to have the children returned, the abducting parent just disappears and goes on the run with the children. This is devastating for the victim parents and where parents hit a brick wall. The help they get from that point is next to nothing, having to deal with corrupt officials in many countries, where even the abductor can buy a free passage for a small bribe. No enforcement and non compliance by signature countries to The Hague Convention very rarely get brought up…..WHY?

Why is there no pressure by authorities or governments or NGO’s who are funded by governments or anyone to implement stronger and tougher rules to all those ‘non-compliance’ countries who only sign up to the Hague Convention to look good in the eyes of the International community…..WHY?

At the moment all we hear about is the UK and BREXIT and the problems it could have on UK children abducted out of the UK to other EU states. Not one word uttered about that scary, swept under the carpet word, ENFORCEMENT. Why can’t they discuss enforcement issues and include them in their talks? It’s like talking to a brick wall about enforcement. It’s about time signatures to the Hague Convention were punished or kicked out of the treaty which is there to help children.

At the moment it means absolutely nothing at all. YES, absolutely there must be a system in place to assist parents left behind but what is in place now is a complete joke. Lawyers know it, Judges know it, NGO’s like Reunite know it, authorities know it, Embassies know it, so why is nothing being done about enforcement and changing the rubbish system in place now?

The truth is they all know nothing will be done due to cross border laws, religion and well just not caring. Foreign court orders mean absolutely nothing in a foreign country including Hague countries. At the time of abduction victim parents are urged to follow procedure as outlined by the family law court and foreign affairs department in their country.

Victim parents will then thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to obtain recovery orders for their abducted children. The hope that parent feels when they are finally if ever granted a return order from The Hague Convention dissipates as soon as they then discover that return order can not be enforced. Time is crucial in all abduction cases but not so more than the first 12 months. As we have found with our clients in the past abductors and their lawyers often take advantage of Article 12 of The Hague Convention (The judicial or administrative authority even where the proceedings have been commence after the expiration of the period of one year referred to in the proceeding paragraph shall also order the return of the child unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled in its new environment). So all an abductor needs to do is show the court they have effectively resettled the child and the victim parents hopes are crushed.

CARI works side by side with authorities in some countries to make sure decisions get enforced because if we don’t push some orders no one will or does. Many authorities just need someone on the ground with contacts to push them along, to find the abducted children and make sure the orders are enforced. Your lawyers, Embassies, police, reunite, will not go out and search for your abducted children.

Those parents dealing with Non-Hague Signatory countries are left in a far worse position…….

Some interesting points to remember:

– The Hague Convention is a TOOL only, it doesn’t mean you will have your children returned.

– Most countries it’s not a crime to illegally kidnap your children.

– Many signature countries do not extradite a parent for foreign criminal charges of child abduction.

– Don’t waste you breath trying to get an Embassy involved to help you. The usual ‘here is a list of local lawyers’ is about all they do.

– The U.S State Department, in its 2005 Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, expressed concern about enforcement problems in many countries including those like Germany, stating that:

Since 2000, Germany has demonstrated strong performance regarding applications for the return of children to the U.S. Despite this, we continue to observe unwillingness on the part of some judges, law enforcement personnel and others within the child welfare system in Germany to vigorously enforce some German orders granting parental access in both Convention and non-Convention access cases.

American parents often obtain favorable court judgments regarding access and visitation, but the German courts’ decisions can remain unenforced for years. A taking parent can defy an access order with relative impunity. As a result, a number of U.S. parents still face problems obtaining access to and maintaining a positive parent-child relationship with their children who remain in Germany.

Unfortunately, the behavior of German courts in recent cases indicates that the General Accounting Office was far too optimistic in its conclusion that Germany was improving. And Germany is one country most reading this would think, ‘No way I would have thought Germany would be easy to enforce a judgement’. Even worse put yourself in a parents shoes whose children are taken to countries that are not signatures to the Hague Convention!! We don’t care what lawyers say or anyone else, it’s almost impossible to have abducted children returned from so many countries using the court systems in place.

The UK for example has what is called ‘Tipstaff’ who’s job is to enforce UK court orders. And we give credit where credit is due like always, the UK is one of the better countries on returning abducted children back to their habitual residence. Look at Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Philippines, Russia, Japan, Most South American countries (including Hague signatures), Asia and the list goes on and on……..The sooner a left behind parent acknowledges this they can put their time and effort into other avenues to try have their children returned.

We know of so many cases where our clients have had full custody in both countries, abductor on the run with the kids, abductor wanted by Interpol, abductor gets stopped by authorities after a random stop in car and is arrested for 48 hrs due to the Interpol red notice for kidnapping, abductor gets released and let back into the community WITH THE ABDUCTED CHILD!

You can see why we have so much anger for the system, which constantly lets parents and their abducted children down day in day out.

Things must drastically change not for you or us but for the thousands of innocent children living like fugitives on the run in so many countries all because of a selfish parent. We have and will continue to request from central authorities a freedom of information request to find their individual annual reports on child abduction. We have one already with them coming back stating they hold no figures on the number of children being taken out of their country only figures that are reported to Embassies abroad……

This is the problem governments do not care about abducted children. Stop wasting tax payers money on stupid brochures and start putting money and resources into things that will make a difference. They tend to continue to treat parental abduction as a private family matter and not for the crime is really is.

Please help spread this to parents around the world as every left behind parent has a right to know the truth.