Monday, May 21, 2018

State Department's Annual Report on International Child Abduction: The Bahamas

The U.S. State Department has recently released their annual report on International Child Abduction. Below is our second post in a series here focusing on the twelve countries classified as “demonstrating patterns of noncompliance.”  Today’s country is The Bahamas.
Country Summary: The Hague Abduction Convention has been in force between the United States and The Bahamas since 1994. In 2017, The Bahamas demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Bahamian Central Authority regularly fails to fulfill its responsibilities pursuant to the Convention. Additionally, The Bahamas’ judicial branch regularly fails to implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result of these failures, 50 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average these cases were unresolved for seven years and two months. The Bahamas has been cited as noncompliant since 2011.

Central Authority: The Bahamian Central Authority demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to a lack of effective communication with the U.S. Central Authority regarding IPCA cases.
Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to locate children after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was three months and 16 days.

Judicial Authorities: The Bahamian judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays in deciding Convention cases. As a result of these delays, cases may be pending with the judiciary for over one year. Bahamian courts cause delays by routinely requesting home study evaluations in all Convention cases, regardless of whether respondents raise defenses to return under the Convention. Additionally, the judicial authorities continue to require apostilles for supporting documents in Convention applications. These extra requirements impeded prompt resolutions.
Enforcement: As a result of serious delays by the Bahamian judicial authorities in deciding Convention cases, the United States is not aware of any instances where law enforcement was asked to enforce a return order in 2017.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with the Bahamian authorities to address issues of concern and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases.
Access: In 2017, the U.S. Central Authority had no open access cases under the Convention in The Bahamas.