Friday, May 26, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: The Bahamas

The U.S. State Department has just issued its 2017 Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction under the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA). The following is the Country Summary and related information from the second country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, the Bahamas:
Country Summary:
The United States and The Bahamas have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 1994. In 2016, The Bahamas demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Bahamian Central Authority and the judicial authorities in The Bahamas persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of this failure, 50 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average these cases have been unresolved for 42 months. The Bahamas have been cited as non-compliant since 2010.

Central Authority: The Bahamian Central Authority demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention because of serious delays in the processing of cases and a lack of effective communication with the U.S. Central Authority regarding the resolution of cases.

Location: The competent authorities regularly took steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was seven months and two days.

Judicial Authorities: The judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention through a series of decisions in cases that were not consistent with the Convention and through serious delays in deciding Convention cases. The Bahamian authorities tended to treat Convention cases as custody cases. Bahamian judges routinely requested home study evaluations and apostilles for documents supporting the Convention application. These extra requirements impeded prompt resolutions and were inconsistent with The Bahamas’ obligations under the Convention. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than six years.
Enforcement: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases in which a judicial order relating to international parental child abduction needed to be enforced by the Bahamian authorities.

Access: In 2016, there were no open access cases.

Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the authorities to address significant issues of concern and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department will also encourage training with judicial and administrative authorities on the effective handling of international parental child abduction cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.