Monday, June 29, 2020

State Department's Annual Report on International Child Abduction, 2020: Ecuador

The U.S. State Department has recently released their annual report on International Child Abduction. Below is our fourth post in a series here focusing on the nine countries classified as “demonstrating patterns of noncompliance.”  Today’s country is Ecuador.
Country Summary: The Convention has been in force between the United States and Ecuador since 1992. In 2019, Ecuador continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Ecuadorian judicial authorities persistently failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result of this failure, 67 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 one year and ten months. Ecuador was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2015-2019 Annual Reports.
Initial Inquiries: In 2019, the Department received seven initial inquiries from parents regarding possible abductions to Ecuador for which no completed applications were submitted to the Department. 
Significant Developments: In 2019, judges from the United States and Ecuador met more than once to discuss Convention best practices. Additionally, representatives from the Office of Children’s Issues traveled to Quito in December 2019 for high-level meetings to discuss Ecuador’s Convention implementation with the Ecuadorian Central Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador’s specialized law enforcement unit for children Dirección Nacional de Policía Especializada para Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes (DINAPEN), the National Court of Justice, and the Judicial Council. Central Authority: Though the Ecuadorian Central Authority leadership changed three times in this reporting period, the United States and the Ecuadorian Central Authorities have a strong and productive relationship that facilitates the resolution of abduction cases under the Convention.
Voluntary Resolution: The Convention states that central authorities “shall take all appropriate measures to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues.” In 2019, one abduction case was resolved through voluntary means. Location: The competent authorities took appropriate steps to locate a child after a Convention application was filed. It took 60 days to locate this child.
Judicial Authorities: There were serious delays in deciding Convention cases, which contributed to a pattern of noncompliance. As a result, cases may be pending with the judiciary for over one year. Additionally, a judicial decision raised concerns.
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 Ecuadorian authorities. Access: In 2019, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of two open access cases under the Convention in Ecuador. One case was filed with the Ecuadorian Central Authority in 2017, and the other case was filed in 2018. By December 31, 2019, one case (50 percent) had been resolved, and one case remained open. One case has been pending with the Ecuadorian authorities for more than 12 months. Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with the Ecuadorian authorities to address issues of concern.