Monday, April 21, 2014

The I CARE Foundation's International Travel Child Consent Form: Help Prevent Summer Child Abduction

I CARE Foundation Call-To-Arms

The I CARE Foundation is sending out an early warning to parents around the world that the summer school break is the most prominent time of year where thousands of children around the world are targeted for international parental child abduction.
The planning by a possible abducting parent intending to wrongfully detain a child abroad is occurring now … yes, even a few months prior to a scheduled summer trip abroad.  So, as a parent, please be sure to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of international child abduction.
Now is the time when would-be abducting parents are scheming to be able to set their abduction plan in motion. Sadly, many of these schemes will include having the targeted parent travel with the abducting parent, under the guise of a family summer vacation, to the abducting parent’s country of origin. Once there, the abducting parent will create a terrible scheme that may very well include lies that will cause local law enforcement to detain you. And while you are detained abroad, that abducting parent will seek jurisdiction of the child in the country you all travelled to, citing danger to both their and the child’s welfare. This tactic is very common – don’t think it can happen to you.
A critical tool that has proven it’s effectiveness in abduction prevention for those children traveling abroad is the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form. Visit the I CARE Foundation’s website to familiarize yourself with and DOWNLOAD a copy of the International Travel Child Consent Form.  And, if you are a parent and have a child traveling abroad this summer, it is recommended by global leaders in the area of abduction prevention, that serious consideration is given to utilizing the travel consent form.
Here is a brief Q & A regarding the International Travel Consent Form that will help explain why this ground-breaking tool is so critical in the prevention of international child abduction.
Q.  Why use the I CARE Foundation’s Hague International Child Abduction-centric ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’?
A.  It is estimated that between 85% and 90% of all cases of international parental child abduction occur when a child is wrongfully detained in a foreign country. The wrongful detention of a child abroad generally occurs during a court directed travel order or when travel occurs by mutual parental consent. However, unknown to the targeted parent who may either travel with the child or who may remain in the child’s country of habitual residency, the scheming parent intending to remain abroad with the child has more than likely crafted a well-orchestrated scheme that includes use of Article 12 and Article 13 of the Hague Convention in order to remain abroad with the child.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of children wrongfully detained in a foreign country do not come home.  The I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ protects against misuse of all known international child abduction defenses under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, including Articles 12, 13, and 20, while upholding the intent and spirit of Article 1 of the Child Abduction Convention.
Q.  Is the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ enforceable in foreign courts?
A.  Yes. One of the key elements of the I CARE Form is that the document requires an Apostolic Notarization (see information on Apostolic Documentation). The travel consent form must be delivered prior to travel to the consulate or embassy of the country the child will be traveling to that is located in the child’s country of habitual residency as well as a copy sent to the child’s country of habitual residency’s consulate or embassy located in the country they intend to travel to.
Q.  How difficult is it to have a child who is abducted returned to their country of original jurisdiction?
Peter Thomas Senese TestimonyA.  One of the greatest challenges all targeted parents face is that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to recover and reunite with abducted children.  Statistically, the grave challenges have not been fully revealed primarily due to the vast majority of countries around the world not reporting their abduction rate. In fact, of the 91 signatory countries of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, only a handful of countries have reported their international parental child abduction statistics.  One country that has done reporting is the United States. And as reported in the testimony presented to the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations hearing that took place in February, 2014, approximately 40% of American children abducted to Hague signatory countries are returned home.  This number has rapidly declined over the past few years.  Additionally, less than 20% of all children taken to non-Hague signatory nations have been returned to the U.S.
It is noteworthy to share that excluding the United States, countries that have reported their abduction rate have demonstrated on average a 20% growth in abduction per year.  The ongoing global abduction rate increase is in contradiction to the reported U.S. outbound abduction rate, which has declined by 23% during  the reporting periods of FY 2011 and 2012.
Q.  Why is it that the majority of parents are successful in carrying out their scheme of abduction?
A.  Perhaps the singular most important factor is that local courts in foreign countries are not abiding by the intent and spirit of the Hague Child Abduction Convention.  Specifically, all abductors will make defense claims under Article 12 or Article 13 of the Hague Convention.   Article 12 has to do with intent to relocate, and Article 13 has to do with the ‘Best interest of the child’, which recently has been expanded in many courts to include ‘Best interest of the child and extended family’.
Unfortunately, Article 13 in particular has become the Achilles Heel of the abduction prevention community.
Hague ConferenceDuring Hague proceedings, the convention calls for the inbound country’s Hague Court to look at Article 13 defenses only in extreme cases as the intent of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention is to determine which court has jurisdiction of the child, and then properly and expeditiously return that child to the country where the court of original jurisdiction is located.  However, around the world, courts are no longer acting in an expeditious manner (outside of tribunal courts such as those established in England) as is cited under Article 1 of The Hague Child Abduction Convention.  Instead, local courts are calling for detailed findings of what is in the best interest of the child and in essence making their own custody ruling even though they are not the court of original jurisdiction.
Problematically, these courts are in essence mooting not only the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention but they are essentially quashing the court orders originating from the child’s country of original jurisdiction.
What the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ does is it upholds the intent and spirit of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, including Article 1’s ‘Expeditious determination clause’. In addition, the travel consent form strongly addresses misuse of Article 12 and Article 13 defenses, and essentially moots use of false claim.  In addition, the I CARE Foundation’s travel consent form upholds the sanctity of the court of original jurisdiction located in the child’s country of habitual residency.
In essence, the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ is the only global child abduction prevention tool that safeguards against misuse of the Hague Child Abduction Convention defenses and calls for the immediate return of a child if that child is wrongfully detained by mutual consent of both parents.
Q.  Who has supported the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form?
A.  The I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ has been supported by global child abduction prevention leaders around the globe including Turkey’s Honorable Judge Selma Nilhan Tekinalp, a world renown child advocate and leading authority on Hague abduction law stated,
“The judiciary has an absolute responsibility to prevent against international parental child abduction. In cases when a parent wrongfully takes or detains a child in a foreign country without court order or consent society must understand that this is never a child custody case but a case of kidnapping. The grave and severe abuse to children of abduction at the hands of their kidnapping parents is devastating and only now coming into public light. From the I CARE Foundation sponsored conference at the United Nations I participated in, and discussed with Mr. Peter Thomas Senese numerous issues revolving around how we may prevent abduction, I am pleased to share that the ‘I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form’ has the worldwide potential to dramatically reduce global child abduction. This agreement is deep in Hague law, and strikes at the core of abductor statements who may attempt to mislead courts into sanctioning a kidnapping established under the rules of the Hague Convention. I welcome the creation of the Special Commission.”
Esteemed Washington D.C. international family law attorney Armin U. Kuder, partner at the highly respected firm Kuder, Smollar & Friedman, has been named in every article identifying leading family lawyers in the prestigious ‘Washingtonian Magazine’ while also has been named in ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ since the publication’s inception, provided insight on the pragmatic usefulness of the ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ when he said,
“If there is no prior attempt at international abduction of a child, it is extremely difficult to convince a court that it is going to happen. The I Care Foundation International Travel Child Consent Form is a powerful tool for exposing a would-be abductor’s intent. If a parent will not sign the form, we have compelling evidence to present to a court in support of limitations on travel, use of passports, and conditions for access to the child.”
Silvia A. Sejas Pardo, a highly respected Argentinean and Spanish international lawyer based in Spain and who is a Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys dedicated to preventing child abduction commented,
“The creation of the Special Commission is a critical step in furthering the global utilization of the ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ into courts everywhere. We as lawyers who are on the front-line in the fight to stop abduction not only must embrace this clever and sophisticated tool, but we must share of its high merit with lawyers and the judiciary around the world. If we do, we will prevent many abductions.”
Carolina Marín Pedreño is a partner at the prestigious London-based law firm of Dawson Cornwell, Carolina Marín Pedreño is the Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys based in Barcelona created to prevent and assist with international child abduction cases. Additionally, Carolina is the Secretary of the British and Spanish Law Association, a member of the Spanish Association of Family Lawyers, AEAFA, Resolution, Reunite: International Child Abduction Centre, the Society of British and Argentine Lawyers, and the Association of Lawyers for Children, added,
“The positive feedback of the Secretary General is extremely welcome as it highlights the potential of the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form as an international instrument to prevent and reduce cases of child abduction globally. The I Care Foundation has created a wonderful tool, but it is essential that the judiciary and child abduction practitioners around the world now use the Consent Form in international cases; only then will a body of case law develop in each jurisdiction that will enshrine the importance of the Form and lead to a significant decrease in international child abduction. I welcome the creation of the Special Commission and look forward to sharing our findings with the Hague Conference’s leadership.”
Mexico’s Carlos Alvarado is a partner at the International Law Group and considered one of the most knowledgeable international family law attorneys in Mexico. Mr. Alvarado was responsible for codifying and translating the I CARE Foundation’s travel consent form into Spanish. Mr. Alvarado added,
“The creation of the I CARE Foundation Special Commission is a very significant event for it further demonstrates the significant progress of the ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’. There is no question in my mind that when fully implemented, we will see a sizable decline in child abductions. On this note, society must remember that when a parent internationally abducts a child, this is not a child custody case, but a kidnapping. And as reported last month by the U.S. Department of Justice, children who are abducted by one parent face high degree threats of violence and possible murder. I look forward to sharing the findings of the Special Commission with the leadership of the international community.”
Linda Hammerschmid is Secretary of the Family Law Association of Quebec and a Family Law practitioner in Montreal Canada with over 30 years’ experience in the field. Ms. Hammerschmid commented,
“The creation of the new International Travel Consent form is a MUST have, not only for Government Departments, Family Law Attorneys and divorcing couples, but also for INTACT families, and should be kept at the homes of ALL parents to use whenever one or the other wishes to travel alone with their children. Far too often the traveling parent only informs the other, AFTER departure, of their intention not to return the children.”
Q.  Has the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form Work?
A.  The I CARE Foundation’s Travel Consent Form has been utilized in courtrooms around the world. To date and to the best of our knowledge, every child who has traveled under the form and who has properly executed all the instructions suggested on the form have all returned to their home country of origin.
Q.  Will the Hague Secretariat Seek To Implement An International Travel Consent Form in the future?
A.  It is our understanding that the creation of a formal Hague Travel Consent form is a high priority for review of the Secretary General.
Q.  Are there legal briefs and case law analysis available that support the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ and is there a fee for the legal brief?
A.  The I CARE Foundation has prepared an extensive legal analysis of the travel consent form. The analysis is free of charge.
Q.  Can the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ be used for travel to non-Hague signatory countries?
A.  The reality is that children taken to non-Hague signatory countries do not come home. This is a truth that still remains true today. We urge all courts and lawyers considering use of the I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ to proceed with great caution when considering allowing travel for a child to a non-Hague country particularly when there are concerns that a child may be wrongfully detained.  If there are moderate concerns of abduction, we strongly advise against any type of travel regardless of the use of our travel consent form or not.
Travel Consent Form

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Iraq Joins 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention

Iraq Joins 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention: Becomes 92nd Contracting Member Nation To Multi-National Child Abduction Treaty

Starting with Japan becoming a Contracting Member of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention followed by Iraq’s acceding to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, 2014 has had a very good start for individuals dedicated to prevent international parental child abduction and trafficking. Under the auspices of the Hague Secretariat’s critical diplomatic work, 92 countries have now joined the table of nations dedicated toward working unilaterally at solving the global child abduction pandemic.

On April 9th, 2014 Iraq acceded to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which now counts 92 Contracting States as members to the multi-national treaty.  

Under Hague Conference on Private International Law Secretary General Dr. Christophe Bernasconi’s leadership, continued multi-national participation amongst countries that previously were hesitant to join the table of nations under the child abduction convention continues to grow. Previously, on January 24th, 2014 Japan became the 91st Contracting State to the Hague Child Abduction Convention

Iraq’s accession of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction occurred with little public notification, but has in fact sent a very loud message in the international community that the Hague Secretariat is proactive in the stance to protect children from abuse, including international parental child abduction.  Equally, Iraq and Japan’s accession to the Hague Child Abduction Convention demonstrates that diplomacy, more than anything else, is the key element needed when guiding non-member countries to join the child abduction treaty.

Similar to Japan’s decision to join the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Iraq’s decision sheds light that countries around the world are strongly recognizing the gravity and severe problems of international parental child abduction while also recognizing the need to stop international child kidnappings. Iraq’s participation in the Hague Child Abduction Convention, similar to Japan’s participation, enforces the global belief that the correct global mechanisicm to protect children from international parental child abduction is the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction under the auspices of the Hague Secretariat.

It is important to note that Iraq and Japan are geographically located in regions of the world where, due to religious and cultural reasons, were hesitant to previously join the child abduction convention. However, as the past two months have demonstrated, the governments who previously were hesitant to address child abduction by participating in The Hague Child Abduction are now doing so (As an example, the Republic of Korea {South Korea} became a Contracting Member on March 1st, 2013). 

Today, as we take exceptional note of the remarkable progress and effort the Hague Secretariat has made bringing previously hesitant countries to become Contracting Members of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, we must also point out that it is critically necessary for all Contracting Members to work together to increase the viability of the office of the Hague Secretariat so that the multi-national conventions (38 including the Hague Child Abduction Convention) can be effectively used to assist those individuals they are intended to help.  In the view of the I CARE Foundation, this includes calling upon each Contracting Member to increase their financial support to the Hague Secretariat by increasing both the mandatory financial requirement and voluntarily increasing participation to the supplemental budget. Unquestionably, by increasing the financial capability of the Hague Conference, there will be much-needed opportunity to implement new and much needed education and outreach programs, which would in effect, cause all nations to become more compliant with the various intergovernmental conventions under the auspices of the Secretariat General.

As for countries that have still not become a Contracting Member of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, there is optimism that this will change as countries such as Indonesia, The Philippines, India and other nations continue to heavily consider accession of the Hague Child Abduction Convention.

The U.S. Government has not yet accepted Iraq’s accession. Accordingly, as of today’s date the Convention is not in force between the United States and Iraq, and child abductions from or to Iraq and from or to the United States are not yet covered by the Convention.

In additional international family law and Hague Conference news, on 9 April 2014, during the Council on General Affairs of the Hague Conference, Singapore became the 76th Member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law by depositing its instrument of acceptance of the Statute of the Organization.
On the same occasion, Brazil acceded to the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters which now counts 58 Contracting States
Finally, the European Union approved the Hague Convention of 23 November 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (hereinafter the 2007 Hague Child Support Convention).

For more information about international parental child abduction, please visit The I CARE Foundation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention Officially Takes Effect In Japan

Effective April 1st, 2014, Japan officially became a member of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. Japan’s ratification of the Convention not only makes them the 91st Contracting State, but it comes after long-standing diplomatic efforts and global public outcry over Japan’s previous failure to participate in the international child abduction treaty, as well as the proven history of not offering victimized children and targeted parents of abduction a vehicle to turn to in order to resolve international parental child abduction disputes.

From the standpoint of the I CARE Foundation, Japan becoming a member of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention is a definite sign that diplomatic efforts throughout the international community are working. It also strongly reaffirms that the Hague Child Abduction Convention is the right mechanism for both  governments and families around the world to utilize in an effort to settle international child abduction disputes. However, it is also critically important to note that Japan's Parliment has created significant loopholes for their citizens who abduct a child to remain in Japan and enable the two newly established Hague Courts to sanction a Japanese child's kidnapping in cases that the Japanese parent claims essentially any form of child or spousal abuse. The Japanese government's exemptions to the Hague Child Abduction Convention are particularly concerning as in the vast majority of international parental child abduction cases around the world, the taking parent (regardless of man or woman) claims abuse.

In present cases of mobility, we urge the courts around the world to move very cautiously when making considerations toward travel or mobility. Specificially, it is our extreme view that courts should heavily weigh whether a Japanese parent living abroad who is seeking travel with their child to Japan has previously made false allegations against the child's other parent, or, has demonstrated a penchant to be a non-cooperating parent when the court is deciding on mobility and travel cases.  In the event that false claims by a Japanese citizen living abroad has been made against their child's other parent, courts must realize that these claims against the child's other parent will be enough evidence a Japanese national may need to permanently remain in Japan regardless of Japan's ratification of the Hague Child Abduction Convention. It is also important to point out that in Japan's culture, typically only one parent is permitted to raise the child of a failed marriage or partnership. Finally, in existing cases occurring between Japanese nationals living abroad seeking mobility or travel, courts must be aware that many Japanese citizens living abroad with a child but who are seeking to relocate back to Japan more than likely fully understand the new loopholes established under Japan's annexation of the Hague Child Abduction Convention.  Court's must proceed with extreme caution as the Japanese government begins it process of upholding the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention while also addressing their own domestic family laws.

As part of Japan's participation in the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, retroactivity, for those foreign parents that have previously had a child internationally abducted to Japan are not eligible to file a Hague Application or utilize the treaty.  Saying that, we must be sure to always remember the children who have become victims of international abduction and taken to Japan - as well their left-behind families - because it is many of those families that successfully advocated for Japan’s ratification.