Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Japan: Lawmakers launch group to ensure visitations after divorce

More than 40 Japanese lawmakers set up a group Tuesday with an aim to enact legislation to ensure visitations between children and their parents separated due to divorce or marital disputes in Japan.

The lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties will strive to prevent severance of the parent-child relationship for the child's best interest, as more than 150,000 children in Japan every year are estimated to lose contact with noncustodial parents following divorce.

Japan adopts the sole custody system and the country's courts tend to award mothers custody. It is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.

At the first meeting of the parliamentarians' group, Minoru Kiuchi, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives, said that not being able to meet with their own child would "violate the human rights of fathers."

Kiuchi referred to his own experience of being temporarily separated from his children in the past due to a dispute with his wife.

A group of parents separated from their children urged the lawmakers at the meeting to increase the frequency of visitations, ban parental child abductions and oblige couples to work out a joint parenting plan for their children when they get divorced.

According to a government survey on visitations in fiscal 2011, 23.4 percent of 1,332 single mothers and 16.3 percent of 417 single fathers said they have agreed on a scheme of exchanges between children and their separated parents.

As for the frequency of visitations, 36.5 percent of 603 single mothers and 42.3 percent of 225 single fathers said their children have met with nonresident parents more than once a month.

LDP lower house member Hiroshi Hase, who heads the secretariat of the lawmakers' group, said that members will meet once a month and conduct fact-finding surveys before starting work to craft a new law.
The members will also promote awareness among the general public that it will be desirable for children to maintain access to both parents, he said.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Supreme Court New Hague Abduction Convention Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has today, in Lozano v. Montoya Alvarez, upheld the Second Circuit ruling that the one year period in the “one year and settled” exception to the Hague Abduction Convention is not subject to equitable tolling. 

The decision is not surprising since that is what the treaty provides and the American equitable tolling gloss was not contemplated in the Hague drafting process and has only been applied in this country. 

What is refreshing in the opinion of Justice Thomas is his use of international authority as the key basis for the decision. 

Justice Thomas relied significantly on case law from England, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong in reaching the conclusion that the U.S. reliance on equitable tolling was out of the international mainstream and inappropriate.

Now, if only the Supreme Court would bring the U.S.’s crazily conflicting and confusing interpretations of habitual residence in Hague cases into the international mainstream!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Russia to establish special courts for international kidnapping cases

MOSCOW, March 3 (RAPSI) – Russia will establish special courts to adjudicate cases involving international kidnapping cases, Deputy Minister for Education and Science Veneiamin Kaganov told RIA Novosti Monday.

In 2011, Russia joined the International Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which aims to facilitate the immediate retrieval of children unlawfully transported to any of the 87 member states of the Convention.

Earlier in February, the Russian State Duma passed a bill establishing a review procedure for cases concerning the return of children, and granting custody rights. 

Russia has seen a number of international custody rows, including several with France and Finland.
Irina Belenkaya, a Russian national accused of kidnapping her daughter and orchestrating an attack on her ex-husband Andre, received a two-year suspended sentence in a French court in 2012. The couple has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle resulting in their daughter Elise being "kidnapped" back and forth three times in 2007-2009. Andre was awarded custody by a French court after their divorce in 2007.

Several similar cases have arisen in Finland following the introduction of a 2008 law stating that children should be taken from their families immediately, where mistreatment is suspected.

Rimma Salonen's case was one of the first public scandals to emerge involving Russian-Finnish children.
After Salonen brought her son Anton back to Russia, he was again returned to Finland in the trunk of a diplomat's car three years ago by his father Paavo Salonen and diplomat Simo Pietilainen, who have escaped criminal liability in Finland. Rimma Salonen was deprived of her parental rights by a Finnish court and received a suspended sentence for abducting her son after her divorce from Paavo.