This past weekend, a widely publicized international parental child abduction case that originated in the United States and ended in Canada exemplified some of the serious challenges parents in both countries face dealing with abduction.
The case of a Longmont, Colorado mother who was assaulted this past Saturday by her separated husband after he broke into her home, where he is alleged to have pepper-sprayed her before using a stun gun on her before he kidnapped their three-year old child to Canada despite an Amber Alert being issued for the abducted child is hopeful that she will be reunited with her son over the coming days. The child's father was arrested in Manitoba, Canada on Sunday, and thankfully, the child has been reported to be doing okay.
|Brandy Turner Holding Her Son Luke Prior To Abduction|
As the school summer vacation months approach, it is anticipated that the majority of criminal international parental child abductions will take place. How to prevent these kidnappings is at the core of concern for tens of thousands of abduction prevention stakeholders, including targeted parents of abduction, law enforcement, courts of local jurisdiction, and respective government agencies around the world charged with protecting children.
The Canadian Border Services Agency is presently investigating how the child was able to enter Canada despite an Amber Alert issuance.
|How Monty Ray Turner Entered Canada Despite An|
Amber Alert Is Unknown At This Time
Chris Dzikowicz, the head of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection sai, "The Amber Alert was issued in a state that wasn't a border state. I think the story may have been very different if it had been a border state where they would have been inclined to alert the border immediately," she said.
Longmont Det. Cmdr. Jeff Satur said, "The Amber Alert, when we issued it, initially concentrated on the surrounding states of Colorado, which would have been Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona. And then we also entered an Amber Alert in Missouri because our initial information was that he was heading toward Missouri. We did not have any information that he was heading to Canada. That is something else that we are looking into because the boy's mother was not aware and did not authorize any passports."
According to the CBSA, to legally take a child under 18 across the international border, the parent needs a signed letter from the other parent.
But Dzikowicz said parents sometimes aren't asked to present notarized letters if the border guards don't see anything suspicious.
Targeted parents around the world who have their children abducted often do not reunite with their children. Rarely, are abducting parents prosecuted, as courts often fail to hold accountable an abductor for their act of kidnapping, often wrongfully citing 'best interest of the child'.
However, recently, parental child abductors are starting to be held accountable, which may be one of the reasons why the reported cases of outbound international parental child abduction originating from the United States has declined by 15% over the each of the last two fiscal years (2011 and 2012) after nearly 30 years of continued growth. It should be noted with great exception that Canada has failed to publicly report the number of Canadian children abducted from Canada since 2008.
|Monty Ray Turner and Luke Turner|
As prosecutors in the state of Colorado are working to take custody of Monty Ray Turner, 51, who was being held on numerous charges, including kidnapping, a looming cloud covers Canada, the United States, Mexico, and island-nations located in the Caribbean due to existing international travel document requirements for minors under 16 years old need to cross a border that were established under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Specifically, a child traveling by land or by sea across adjacent borders who is under 16 years of age does not need to present a passport at the time of deparute. Instead, all that is required is a photocopy of the child's naturalization papers, such as a photo copy of a birth certificate.
|Peter Thomas Senese's Critically|
Acclaimed Novel On International
Parental Child Abduction
CHASING THE CYCLONE
It should be of great concern that the ability to falsify travel documentation for children is appears to be relatively easy. The capability to easily present travel documentation without another parent's consent or to falsify travel documents for children in cases where a passport is not required appears relatively easy. The fact that simply a birth certificate or worse, a “copy” of a birth certificate and a letter of permission with no documentation to verify its validity, is sufficient to cross international borders is a serious security concern. And although it is is required that a parent or guardian traveling with the child without the other parent possess a letter of consent from the absent parent(s) we must strongly consider that there is no way to verify the validity of a parental consent letter.
So where do we go from here?
Clearly, the summer seaon is upon us, and with the school summer break now here, this is a time of year when thousands of children living in North America will become crime victims of abduction.
As the Turner case unfolds, we must not only ask ourselves how did Mr. Turner exit the United States despite an Amber Watch, but how did he do this. Furthermore, as the Watkins case resoundly demonstrated, not only should there be a mandatory requirement for all individuals regardless of age and type of travel (land, sea, or air) to present a valid passport at the time of departure. Note how I said 'Valid Passport'?
Clearly, children like Luke Turner and every other child deserve to be safe from kidnapping.
How Are Children Internationally Abducted By Their Parent
|The I CARE Foundation|