Monday, October 15, 2007

Czech procedure for Hague Convention international child abduction cases

International child abduction cases in the Czech Republic will be assigned to ten specially-selected judges at the Brno District and Brno Regional courts, if a bill that was presented by the Czech Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil is adopted.

The bill would create internal Czech rules for such cases that are brought under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The judges would have to decide whether a child abducted by one of the divorced parents will be returned to the country of origin or not within six weeks. So far, Czech courts have failed to meet the six-week deadline recommended by the Hague Convention.

"We expect in the future to deal annually with up to one hundred cases of international abduction, but our courts are not yet prepared to do so," Pospisil said. At present, individual Czech courts deal with only about ten such cases a year. Under the bill, special judges will be selected who will exclusively focus on the question of whether a child is to be returned or whether it would be better for it to remain in the country to which it was abducted, Pospisil said.

Various Czech experts interpret the condition under which a child should not be returned differently. The Justice Ministry wants to unify their positions. A two-day expert conference that Pospisil opened today is designed to contribute to it.

The amendment to the rules of civil procedure that is to speed up court proceedings on child abduction has been sent to relevant bodies for comments. The government is to receive it till December and parliament is to start debating it as of January, Pospisil said. He said the amendment could take effect next year already.