Monday, May 29, 2006

German Failure to Expedite Hague Child Abduction Cases

It is our personal experience handling international child abduction cases in Germany (with local counsel) that serious problems apply with respect to the prosecution and satisfactory resolution of Hague Child Abduction Convention applications in Germany.

The situation is so serious that we have written a letter to Secretary of State of State Condoleezza Rice and Senator Richard Lugar as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committees. et al. asserting that Germany is in plain violation of its treaty obligations under the Hague Convention and seeking assistance in thisregard for a client.

Delays in Hague proceedings have long been a major problem in Germany. In May 1999, the State Department reported to Congress that the German administrative and judicial processing of abduction cases took 18 months or longer, a period that the State Department considered entirely unacceptable. The international criticism of Germany led Germany to enact procedural reforms and Germany and the United States set up a binational commission to pursue cooperative approaches.

In April 2001, the General Accounting Office issued a report for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee entitled “Changes to Germany’s Implementation of the Hague Child Abduction Convention.” It concluded that the delays in Germany’s processing of Hague applications had been excessive; and that even “the German task force acknowledged that German courts have taken too long to adjudicate abduction cases in the past.” The General Accounting Office concluded by stating that Germany was adopting reforms which would hopefully solve the problem.

In our opinion, the German reforms have not worked. The court system encourages abductors to stall and delay and the judges are either powerless or unwilling to stop it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Abducting parent (Canada to France) in Jail

Vancouver court gets serious

Woman accused of abducting her children to France is denied bail at 19:22 on May 11, 2006, EST.

VANCOUVER (CP) - A woman accused of abducting her two children and hiding out in France has been denied bail and ordered to stay in prison while she is pregnant.

Nathalie Gettliffe-Grant will stay in jail until her trial date is set July 17, a judge has ruled. "Obviously we're not happy with the decision and we're obviously very disappointed," the woman's lawyer, Deanne Gaffar, said outside court. "It is very much a lot of stress, particularly for someone who's pregnant."

Gettliffe-Grant's ex-husband Scott Grant was at the bail hearing Thursday. He said after the hearing he hopes his former partner pleads guilty.

"My hope is that she pleads guilty and that there's no trial and that she saves herself a lot of grief, because it will be the most terrible thing she'll ever go through, to go through that trial.
"I think even today might have been a shock to her, so I hope there is no trial."

Gettliffe-Grant landed at the centre of an international child abduction case.

She is accused of spiriting her children out of the country to France after a 2001 B.C. Supreme Court decision refused her request to take the children to visit their grandmother there.
Gettliffe-Grant's ex-husband took the case to court in France where he won three rulings, including one by the country's top court.

He said outside court Thursday that he does worry that his he is being painted as 'the bad guy" who put the mother of his children in jail.

His ex-wife was arrested last month at the Vancouver airport when she returned to defend a doctoral thesis at the University of British Columbia.

Grant took the abduction case to court in France, where he won three successive rulings. One was handed down on Feb. 14 by the country's top court and stated that Gettliffe-Grant had breached the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and that the children should be returned to Canada.

It has become one of the longest parental child-abduction cases handled by the provincial office.
She could face up to 10 years in prison in Canada on two counts of child abduction.

The case has taken on a nasty flavor.

California mother held in custody breach case

I am posting this to draw attention to what should be simply routine: the arrest of a parent after her abduction of her child. Hats off to California -- the most progressive American state in this regard.

By Sara Eaton
The Journal Gazette
May 10, 2006

Police arrested a California woman Monday on charges of violating a child custody order by removing her son from his father’s Fort Wayne home last July and never returning him.
Latonna Whitt, 28, of El Cajon, Calif., was booked into the Allen County Lockup at 9:32 a.m. Monday on a single count of violation of custody. She was being held without bail.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Whitt picked her son up from his father’s Fort Wayne home July 3 for a weekend visit but failed to return him the following Sunday as scheduled. Although the boy’s father tried to alert police right away, he was referred to his attorney from the custody case, according to court records.

In October, the father learned Whitt had withdrawn their son from Fort Wayne Community Schools and enrolled him in a school in California, according to the affidavit.

A court order allowed Whitt to have weekend visits with her son but restricted her from removing him from Indiana. The charge is punishable by six months to three years in prison.