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.