International child abduction is on an upward trend and the Christmas season is one of the higher-risk periods for parental abduction—particularly when it comes to multi-cultural relationships.
Yesterday, the European Union (EU) Commission Vice-President (Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship), Viviane Reding, made a statement on the issue in Strasbourg.
“Preventing child abduction is an essential part of the EU’s policy to promote the rights of the child. I welcome the initiative of the European Parliament Mediator for international parental child abduction,” she said.
Within the EU, the International Law Association (ILA) Regulation mandates courts within EU member states to not refuse an order to return a child to his or her state of origin, if within the EU.
While the laws do not prevent or solve all cases of international parental child abduction, disputes between EU member states are solved more efficiently and swiftly, Ms. Reding noted.
Among the improvements made to the legal system is the removal of the exequatur rule. This has allowed for a shorter time period in which courts may recognize and enforce judgments made by another state.
In international cases related to child custody and parental abduction, the Hague Convention applies. All EU member states are state parties to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and more countries are gradually signing on.
The Convention aims to protect children from the harmful impacts of abduction and retention by providing a protocol for international cooperation for their return to their country of origin.
According to a press release circulated by PR Web, the ABP World Group (which is an international leader in security matters related to child and adult abduction recovery) is warning parents worried that the other parent may illegally leave the country with their child to use new technology, such as GPS tracking devices, to protect their children.
Martin Waage, Managing Director of ABP World Group, stated, “With international child abductions happening at a record pace, ABP World Group urges parents to take every precaution to protect their children from this horrible fate.”
“Tragically, the number of global parental abductions occurring is an unknown due to failures by governments to keep accurate data,” he added.
However, using the situation in the United States as “microcosm” for the rest of the world, there could be as many as 125,000 children illegally abducted between now and 2020. In Canada, these numbers alone could reach 12,000-15,000, based on current reported cases with a modest 20 per cent growth factor, said Mr. Waage.
While Canada is also a signatory to the Hague Convention, though many countries in the Middle East and Asia are not.