Friday, December 03, 2010

French deal could complicate talks with Russia on international child abduction cases

Negotiations with Russia on international child abduction cases could become more complicated. There has been growing pressure on Russia to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but it is now reported that the European Commission is giving France the right to start negotiations with Russia on a bilateral treaty on international child abduction.

Finland has expressed great concern on this issue, since if individual EU countries negotiate one at a time with Russia there may be less pressure on Russia to sign the Hague Convention.

There have been sharp disagreements between Russia and Finland on the topic of international child abduction. These came to a head in a Finn-Russian case in 2008 and 2009. A Finnish court awarded sole custody of a child to the father. In apparent violation of that order, the Russian mother then took the child to Russia. The father was unable to secure the child’s return from Russia through judicial means and secured the help of the Finland’s Foreign Ministry. A Finnish Foreign Ministry official used a diplomatic vehicle to take the father and son back to Finland. Russia lambasted Finland for a “severe violation of Russian laws.”

Finland is eager for Russia to sign the Convention, as are many other countries, but Russia seems to prefer to handle the issue piecemeal and thereby diffuse the international pressure for it to simply sign the Convention.