For any parent, lawyer, or stakeholder who is involved in attempting to prevent an international child abduction originating from the United States whereas the suspected taking parent may possess secondary passports issued from a foreign country for the targeted child, I urge you to contact the indefatigable, dedicated team at the United States Department of State's Office of Children's Issues Abduction Prevention Unit.
If you are an at-risk parent who believes your child's other parent is planning or in the process of international parental child abduction, please contact the United States Department of State's Office of Children's Issues Abduction Prevention Bureau to discuss potential measures that may be available to you to ensure the individual parent suspected of an international child abduction threat does not illegally depart the United States and remove your child in violation of a court order or in breach of your right of custody.
Please contact the Office of Children's Issues Prevention Bureau to discuss if there are potential prevention techniques unique to your case that may allow the Department of State to work with other federal agencies so to secure your child is not a victim of international parental child abduction.
To contact the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues Prevention Bureau please contact:
SA-17, 9th Floor
Many U.S. citizen children who fall victim to international parental abduction possess dual nationality. Being aware of the child's other parent's possession of a secondary passport issued from that parent's country of origin is critical in preventing abduction because children abducted abroad usually travel outside of the country on their foreign passport. Preventing the issuance of your child's secondary passport to a foreign country is possible, but not guaranteed, based upon the country of origin of the child's other parent and their laws.
In the United States, it was apparent that parents intending to illegally remove a child in a foreign country knew that if they possessed dual citizenship, that it would be rather easy to depart America using their foreign issued passport that they have had issued for them and more than likely, the child they are intending to wrongfully remove. In part, this belief appears to have been circulated because it was commonly believed that the United States does not have exit controls, and, existing policies such as the Prevent Departure Program (discussed herein) does not apply to individuals who posses a right of American citizenship.
Well - I am here today to tell any individual who is thinking that you can illegally remove an American child-citizen from the United States using a secondary passport issued from another country in your and in the child's name - you better think again.
For all parents, lawyers, court officials, policymakers, policy administrators, child advocates - and to any person who is thinking of aiding or abetting a person intent on committing the crime of international parental child abduction - here's what you need to know: The United States Department of State's Office of Children's Issues and the branch's Child Abduction Prevention Bureau is deeply committed to stopping the abduction of American children.
Want a little proof?
Well, let me begin by saying that due to a host of factors, the global international parental child abduction rate appears to be growing at over 20% per year. Except in the United States of America, where the international parental child abduction rate declined by over 15% in 2011, declined by over 16% in 2012, and is expected to decline further in 2013.
Why is this happening?
Many reasons - first and foremost - it is because the Department of State has committed necessary resources to the Office of Children's Issues and their Abduction Prevention Unit. In turn, their has been real cooperation between the Department of State and other federal agencies who have the ability to assist in stopping a child's international abduction.
For those of you who may be a target of abduction, it is important to know the majority of international parental child abductions that occur are carefully planned schemes that attempt to catch the targeted parent off guard. A parent intending to snatch a child may use an assortment of reasons in order to obtain the secondary passport. Certain countries require signatures of both of the child's parents, while many require only the signature of the parent that possesses citizenship to that country.
Individuals seeking to Department of State assistance and implementation of the Prevent Departure Program should make sure that they have the following information ready to submit to the Office of Children's Issues:
SA-17, 9th Floor
From our vantage point in the battle trench fighting abduction, and from our own measurable history of protecting a large number of children who have either been abducted or were targeted from abduction, the I CARE Foundation is fully aware that none of the successes we have had assisting targeted children would be possible if not for the Department of State and the tremendous cooperation protecting children provided by other agencies.
However, as stated previously - each abduction prevention case is different. It is imperative that at-risk parents contact the Department of State. Should a parent or attorney have questions they would like to address with the I CARE Foundation, they may do so by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thus, a parent planning to abduct a child could do so by boarding a closed circuit cruise, or by simply driving across the border. It is critical that an attorney attempting to prevent abduction familiarize themselves with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative loopholes and present these issues to the court they are litigating over. One other good idea is that they present to the court the statistical realities of child abduction return, including whether a country that appears to be a likely inbound country is a member of the Hague Convention, and whether or not they are a complying country. Of course, that's not all that should be presented to the court. A few other important issues include the potential for severe abuse to the child; and, the severe abuse to the targeted parent, the cost to litigate; and, the ability for the taking parent to disappear abroad, including departing the country they initially 'landed' in, and travel to another country; and finally, the likelihood that a child will be returned.
One little word of advice: the majority of parents who have had their child abducted never saw it coming. Do not stick your head in the ground and think this cannot happen to you. Educate yourself.
- Peter Thomas Senese -
Founding Director - The I CARE Foundation