Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Country Report: China


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 for China:
Country Summary: China does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction.
Central Authority: In 2016, the competent authorities in China periodically declined to communicate or work with the Department of State to resolve pending abduction cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was slow to respond to a diplomatic request for assistance with the resolution of existing cases. Moreover, authorities did not discuss the larger issue of international parental child abduction nor address remedies for left-behind parents in general.
Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Chinese authorities.
Judicial Authorities: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases brought before the Chinese judiciary in 2016.
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 Chinese authorities.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue to encourage China to accede to the Convention and expand diplomacy activities related to the Convention. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Country Report: Pakistan


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 for Pakistan:
Country Summary: During 2016, Pakistan did not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. While Pakistan acceded to the Convention in 2016, it is not a treaty partner with the United States. As a result, there is no formal mechanism for resolving cases under the Convention at this time. Pakistan was cited for non-compliance in the 2015 and 2016 reports.
Significant Developments: In December 2016, Pakistan acceded to the Hague Abduction Convention, and the Convention entered into force on March 1, 2017. The United States is engaged in discussions with the Pakistan government regarding partnering under the Convention. Central Authority: The United States and the competent authorities in Pakistan had regular and productive discussions on the best ways to resolve pending abduction cases under Pakistani law, and the Pakistani government took steps to resolve such cases.
Voluntary Resolution: In 2016, three abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.
Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Pakistani authorities.
Judicial Authorities: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases brought before the Pakistani judiciary in 2016.
Enforcement: Custody decisions made by Pakistani courts were generally enforced in a timely manner.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue to engage with Pakistani government officials regarding potential partnership. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Tunisia


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 thirteenth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Tunisia:

Country Summary: Tunisia does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2016, Tunisia demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the competent authorities in Tunisia failed to work with us to successfully resolve open cases. As a result of this failure, 50 percent of requests for the return of abducted children have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average these cases have been unresolved for more than 4 years. Tunisia has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: In 2016, the competent authorities in Tunisia worked closely with the United States to discuss ways to improve the resolution of pending abduction cases. Nonetheless, none of the pending abduction cases were able to reach resolution through the Tunisian legal system in 2016. Moreover, the competent authorities repeatedly failed to reply to requests from the Department of State to explain Tunisia’s system of law regarding IPCA cases.
Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Tunisian authorities.

Judicial Authorities: While some abduction cases were adjudicated in favor of the U.S. citizen left-behind parent, the lack of clear legal procedures for addressing international parental child abduction cases under Tunisian law makes it very difficult for Tunisia to address these cases successfully.
Enforcement: Judicial decisions in IPCA cases in Tunisia were not enforced unless the taking parent voluntarily complied with a local court order. Moreover, there were two cases (accounting for 100 percent of the cases filed with the FCA) where Tunisian law enforcement authorities have failed to enforce a court order for over two years.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue its efforts to persuade Tunisia to accede to the Convention. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Romania


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 twelfth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Romania:
Country Summary: The United States and Romania have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 1993. In 2016, Romania demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the law enforcement authorities in Romania persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. For example, in one case the authorities have failed to enforce a return order that was issued in 2011. Romania has been cited as non-compliant since 2015.
Central Authority: While the United States and the Romanian Central Authority have a cooperative relationship, periodic delays in the processing of cases and inconsistent communication impacted the timely resolution of Convention cases.
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 2016, one abduction case was resolved through voluntary means.
Location: The competent authorities took appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. On average, it took less than one week to locate a child. In one case, however, the children disappeared after the initial location effort and it took the authorities several months to locate them.
Judicial Authorities: The judicial authorities of Romania routinely reached timely decisions in accordance with the Convention.
Enforcement: Judicial decisions in Convention cases in Romania were not enforced unless the taking parent voluntarily complied with a return order. In addition, if the child expressed a desire to remain with the taking parent, authorities were not able to enforce judicial decisions in Convention cases.
Access: In 2016, there were no open access cases.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Romanian authorities to address significant issues of concern and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Peru


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 eleventh country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Peru:
Country Summary: The United States and Peru have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 2007. In 2016, Peru demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities in Peru persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of this failure, 28 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 27 months. Peru has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: The Peruvian Central Authority gave the United States regular updates on all open cases, and conducted a bi-monthly conference call with the U.S. Central Authority. While the relationship with the Peruvian Central Authority is strong and productive, the United States is concerned that Peru is unable to resolve cases in a timely manner, and urges the Peruvian authorities to take appropriate steps to address this situation.
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 2016, four abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means. The Peruvian Central Authority began all cases with an appeal for the parties to resolve cases voluntarily.

Location: In some cases, the competent authorities delayed taking appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was 39 days. The location efforts of the Peruvian Central Authority generally improved throughout 2016.
Judicial Authorities: The Peruvian judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention through serious delays in deciding Convention cases. Convention cases were not heard expeditiously but instead waited with all other civil cases for hearings. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for almost three years. In addition, there was a strike in the judicial system in 2016 which further slowed the scheduling of hearings.
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 Peruvian authorities.
Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority had one open access case under the Convention in Peru. This case was opened in 2016. By December 31, 2016, this case remained open. No cases were pending with the Peruvian authorities for more than 12 months.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Peruvian 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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Panama


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 tenth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Panama:
Country Summary: The United States and Panama have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 1994. In 2016, Panama demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities in Panama persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of this failure, 100 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 45 months.

Central Authority: While the relationship with the Panamanian Central Authority is strong and productive, the United States is concerned that Panama is unable to resolve cases in a timely manner, and urges the Panamanian authorities to take appropriate steps to address this situation.
Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Panamanian authorities.

Judicial Authorities: The Panamanian judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays in deciding Convention cases. Panamanian judges frequently requested psychological and socio-economic evaluations, which impeded prompt resolutions in Convention cases. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than two 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 Panamanian authorities.
Access: In 2016, there were no open access cases.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Panamanian authorities to address significant issues of concern and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department will also promote 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.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Nicaragua

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 ninth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Nicaragua:
Country Summary: Nicaragua acceded to the Convention in 2001. However, Nicaragua is not a treaty partner with the United States. As a result, there is no formal mechanism for resolving cases under the Convention at this time. In 2016, Nicaragua demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the competent authorities in Nicaragua persistently failed to work with the Department of State to resolve abduction cases. As a result of this failure, 33 percent of requests for the return of abducted children have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average these cases have been unresolved for 24 months. Nicaragua has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: In 2016, the competent authorities in Nicaragua demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance by regularly declining to work toward the resolution of pending abduction cases. Specifically, the Nicaraguan government was not responsive to diplomatic communication requesting assistance for cases involving abducted children in 2016.
Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to help locate a child after the United States submitted a request for assistance. The average time to locate a child was 11 days. Although law enforcement has made serious efforts to locate a child in one case, the child was not located in 2016. 

Judicial Authorities: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases brought before the Nicaraguan judiciary in 2016. 
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 Nicaraguan authorities. 
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify its engagement with Nicaraguan government officials regarding potential partnership. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Jordan


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 eighth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Jordan:
Country Summary: Jordan does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2006, the United States and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage voluntary resolution of abduction cases and facilitate consular access to abducted children. In 2016, Jordan demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. The United States formally notified the Jordanian government of nine abduction cases in January of 2016. These cases have been open for an average of four and a half years, with the longest open for more than 12 years. Jordanian authorities have not responded to the U.S. request for assistance in resolving these abduction cases. Jordan has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: In 2016, the competent authorities in Jordan demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance by regularly declining to work toward the resolution of pending abduction cases. Jordanian authorities have not responded to applications for assistance with the return of children presented to them in 2016. Further, authorities have not discussed the larger issue of international parental child abduction nor addressed remedies for left-behind parents in general.
Voluntary Resolution: In 2016, three abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means. Location: The Department of State did not formally request assistance with location from the Jordanian authorities.

Judicial Authorities: The Department is aware of three cases where left-behind parents sought remedies through Jordanian courts. In two cases, the left-behind parents sought and were granted temporary access orders while they worked to affect the return of their children to their habitual residences. In another case, the left-behind parent started custody proceedings in Jordanian courts, which are still ongoing.
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 Jordanian authorities.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue its efforts to persuade Jordan to accede to the Convention and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: India


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 seventh country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, India:
Country Summary: India does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. In 2016, India demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the competent authorities in India persistently failed to work with the Department of State to resolve abduction cases. As a result of this failure, 66 percent of requests for the return of abducted children have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. India has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: In 2016, the competent authorities in India demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance by regularly declining to work with the Department of State toward the resolution of pending abduction cases. The Indian authorities have not responded to applications for assistance with the return of children presented to them in 2016. Moreover, the competent authorities failed to resolve cases due to a lack of viable legal options. While the Indian government repeatedly met with U.S. officials to discuss abduction cases, it persistently failed to take concrete steps to resolve pending cases.
Voluntary Resolution: In 2016, five abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means. Most returns of abducted children from India to the United States were the result of voluntary agreements between parents.

Location: The Department of State did not request assistance with location from the Indian authorities.
Judicial Authorities: Without the Hague Abduction Convention or any other protocols intended to resolve abduction cases, parents generally must pursue custody of abducted children in Indian courts. Judicial action in custody cases in India has been slow, and Indian courts tend to default to granting custody to the taking parent. Absent any clear legal procedures for specifically addressing abduction cases under Indian law, parents’ efforts to resolve custody disputes in local courts were often unsuccessful.
Enforcement: While most left-behind parents faced significant delays and difficulties in obtaining favorable custody decisions in Indian courts, custody decisions were generally enforced in a timely manner.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify its efforts to persuade India to accede to the Convention and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Guatemala


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 sixth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Guatemala:
Country Summary: The United States and Guatemala have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 2008. In 2016, Guatemala demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the Guatemalan Central Authority and law enforcement authorities persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. The Guatemalan Central Authority has not sent Hague applications to the courts in a timely manner, and has provided some inaccurate updates to the U.S. Central Authority. These failures have resulted in serious delays in the processing of cases. Guatemala has been cited as non-compliant since 2011.
Central Authority: The Guatemalan Central Authority demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to poor handling of cases and a lack of effective communication with the U.S. Central Authority regarding the resolution of cases. These failures have resulted in serious delays in the processing of cases.
Location: Guatemala demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention evidenced by failure of the competent authorities to take appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was 18 months and 21 days.

Judicial Authorities: The United States is not aware of any abduction cases brought before the Guatemalan judiciary in 2016.
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 Guatemalan authorities.
Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority had one open access case under the Convention in Guatemala. This case was opened in 2016. By December 31, 2016, this case (100 percent) was resolved.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Guatemalan 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.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Ecuador


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 fifth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Ecuador:
Country Summary: The United States and Ecuador have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 1992. In 2016, Ecuador demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. While the Ecuadorian Central Authority improved its performance and responsiveness in 2016, the judicial and law enforcement authorities in Ecuador persistently failed to implement and abide by all of the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention as evidenced by delays of over nine months in locating abducted children and judicial delays. As a result of this failure, 11 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 13 months. Ecuador has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.
Central Authority: While the United States and the Ecuadorian Central Authority have a cooperative relationship, periodic delays in the processing of cases and inconsistent communication impacted the timely resolution of Convention cases. In 2016, the Ecuadorian Central Authority improved its performance and responsiveness. However, the Department still encountered occasional delays in obtaining updates from the Authority.
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 2016, two abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.
Location: Ecuador demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention as a result of failure by the competent authorities to promptly locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was nine months and 23 days. As of December 31, 2016, there were three cases where the Ecuadorian authorities had taken a lengthy period of time to locate abducted children. In one of the three cases, authorities have been unable to successfully locate a child since in January 2013. Ecuadorian authorities failed to conduct vigorous follow-up activities to locate children whose taking parents attempt to evade the police. In Ecuador, cases cannot proceed to court until the children's locations are confirmed.
Judicial Authorities: The Ecuadorian judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays in serving summons on alleged taking parents. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than 16 months.
Enforcement: Unless a parent voluntarily complied with a return order under the Convention, judicial decisions in Convention cases in Ecuador were generally not enforced. Moreover, there is one case (accounting for 11 percent of the total cases filed with the FCA) that has been pending for more than 12 months where law enforcement failed to locate the child.
Access: In 2016, there were no open access cases.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Ecuadorian 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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Dominican Republic


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 fourth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, the Dominican Republic:

Country Summary: The United States and the Dominican Republic have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 2007. In 2016, the Dominican Republic demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities in the Dominican Republic persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of this failure, 33 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 16 months. The Dominican Republic has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: While the United States and the Dominican Central Authority have a cooperative relationship, periodic delays in the processing of cases and inconsistent communication impacted the timely resolution of Convention cases.

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 2016, two abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.

Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. On average, it took less than one week to locate a child.
Judicial Authorities: The Dominican judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays at the appellate level in deciding Convention cases. Some cases have moved quickly through initial court proceedings. However, cases appealed to higher courts have taken more than four years to be resolved, including one case delayed for over four years because of the inaction of the Dominican Supreme Court. As of December 31, 2016, this case remained unresolved. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than 18 months.

Enforcement: Decisions in Convention cases in the Dominican Republic were generally enforced in a timely manner.

Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority had one open access case under the Convention in the Dominican Republic. This case was filed with the Dominican Central Authority. No new cases were filed in 2016. By December 31, 2016, this case (100 percent) was resolved.

Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Dominican 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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Brazil


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 third country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Brazil:
Country Summary:
The United States and Brazil have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 2003. In 2016, Brazil demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities in Brazil persistently failed to regularly implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result of this failure, 68 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 49 months. Brazil has been cited as non-compliant since 2005.

Significant Developments: In July 2016, the Brazilian Central Authority transitioned from the then-Ministry of Women, Human Rights, and Racial Equality to the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship, which included human rights. The Brazilian judiciary began consolidating appellate level jurisdictions for Convention cases to process cases faster and to improve judicial familiarity with the Convention. Despite these efforts, the United States is concerned that Brazil is unable to resolve cases in a timely manner and urges the Brazilian authorities to take appropriate steps to address this situation.

Central Authority:
The relationship with the Brazilian Central Authority is strong and productive. The U.S. Central Authority is encouraged by initiatives taken by the Brazilian Central Authority and the Office of the Attorney General, including improved judicial outreach and electronic case processing.

Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. The average time to locate a child was three months and 11 days.
Judicial Authorities: The Brazilian judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention through serious delays in deciding Convention cases. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than four years.
Enforcement: As a result of serious delays by the Brazilian judicial authorities in deciding Convention cases, the United States is not aware of any abduction cases during the reporting period in which a judicial order needed to be enforced.
Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of six open Hague access cases in Brazil. All of these cases were filed with the Brazilian Central Authority. No new cases were filed in 2016. By December 31, 2016, one case (17 percent) had been resolved, leaving five access cases open, all of which were pending with Brazilian authorities for more than 12 months.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intense engagement with the Brazilian authorities to address 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 Hague abduction and access cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Extraordinary Delays in U.S. Hague Abduction Convention Cases


By Jeremy D. Morley
Cases brought under the Hague Abduction Convention should be heard promptly and disposed of expeditiously. Unfortunately, U.S. courts – especially some federal circuit courts and even the U.S. Supreme Court itself – do not always comply with that requirement.

The Sixth Circuit recently ruled, in a Hague case that has been pending for more than two years, that because it and the district court have permitted - and indeed caused - such extreme delays, the case must be remanded to the district court for a further examination of the issue of whether the children would face a grave risk of harm if they are returned to Mexico even though that very issue had previously been determined by the district court. The Sixth Circuit’s reason for the remand order is that both it and the district court had permitted and caused such extreme delays in deciding the case that the facts had significantly changed in the interim. Neumann v. Neumann, 2017 WL 1162926 (6th Cir. 2017).

The case was commenced in June 2015, with the father alleging that his wife had removed the children from their habitual residence in Mexico without his consent and had taken them to live in Michigan. The mother asserted the grave risk exception to the treaty, and also disputed the assertion that Mexico was the habitual residence. Not until one year later, in May 2016, did the district court decide the case. It ruled that the children should be returned to Mexico; that the children’s habitual residence had been in Mexico; and that although the father had been violent to the mother, there was no sufficient evidence that to return the children to Mexico would expose them to a grave risk of physical and/or psychological harm. The respondent then appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which granted an emergency stay of the return order. However, the Sixth Circuit did not hold oral argument until the end of December and did not render its decision until several months thereafter.

At the oral argument, the Sixth Circuit learned that the petitioner had left Mexico, was living in the United States, and might move to India. The Court eventually held that these new facts were highly significant to the conditions that the children would face if they were to be returned to Mexico, and that a further hearing on the grave risk issue was accordingly required, which will obviously cause further extensive delays as well as substantial expense. Thus, the case is still pending. Meanwhile one of the children has reached the age of 16 and so the case has been ended with respect to that child.

The Convention is very clear that speedy resolution of return applications is a central obligation assumed by all treaty partners. The preamble to the Convention states that, “The States signatory to the present Convention … Desiring … to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence …”

Article 1 of the Convention states that, “The objects of the present Convention are - a. to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State.” 
Article 2 of the Convention requires Contracting States to “use the most expeditious procedures available” to implement the objects of the Convention.
Article 11 of the Convention states that, “The judicial or administrative authorities of Contracting States shall act expeditiously in proceedings for the return of children. If the judicial or administrative authority concerned has not reached a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings, the applicant or the Central Authority of the requested State, on its own initiative or if asked by the Central Authority of the requesting State, shall have the right to request a statement of the reasons for the delay.” 
The Hague Conference Guide to Good Practice under the Convention, Part II – Implementing Measures repeatedly demands that states act expeditiously in such cases. In particular, the Guide to Good Practice insists that:
-“Expeditiousness is essential at all stages of the Convention process including appeals.”

-“Expeditious procedures should be viewed as procedures which are both fast and efficient.”

In Chafin v. Chafin, 133 S.Ct. 1017 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court instructed that, Importantly, whether at the district or appellate court level, courts can and should take steps to decide these cases as expeditiously as possible, for the sake of the children who find themselves in such an unfortunate situation. Many courts already do so.”

The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014, 22 U.S.C. §§ 9001–11, requires the U.S. State Department to scrutinize diligently the performance of other countries in returning abducted children expeditiously and to employ enhanced methods to cause non-complying countries to improve their performance. The statute expressly states that “[i]t is the sense of Congress that the United States should set a strong example for other Convention countries in the timely location and prompt resolution of cases involving children abducted abroad and brought to the United States.” However, the Act does not require the State Department to evaluate U.S. compliance with the treaty.

 The delays in the Neumann case are extraordinary but certainly not unique. Many Hague Convention cases in the United States are not concluded until many weeks and often several months and even years after the cases are initiated. Delays are especially prevalent at the federal appellate level.

Indeed, Abbott v. Abbott, 130 S. Ct. 1983 (2010), the first U.S. Supreme Court Hague case illustrates the problem all too well. The child, then aged 9 or 10, was allegedly abducted from Chile to the United States in August 2005. A Hague case was commenced in a U.S. District Court in Texas in May 2006. The district court rendered its decision in July 2007, a delay of 14 months. The Fifth Circuit rendered its decision in September 2008, a delay of another 14 months. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in June 2009, a delay of another 9 months. The Supreme Court rendered its decision in May 2010, a delay of another 11 months. Its decision was to remand the case for further hearings. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in June 2009, a delay of another 9 months. It ruled on the case in May 2010, a delay of another 11 months, but it merely remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit. In August 2010 the Fifth Circuit remanded the case to the original district court. The case may well have then died of its own accord, since the child had reached the age of 16.

               Such delays are in plain derogation of the duty of the judicial and administrative authorities to returned internationally-abducted children promptly and to decide Hague cases expeditiously. The United States may well be in violation of its obligation under the treaty. Such delays certainly make it harder for left-behind parents in the United States to complain effectively of the delays in other countries in returning internationally-abducted children. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

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.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Noncompliant Countries: Argentina


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 first country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, Argentina:
Country Summary: The United States and Argentina have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 1991.  In 2016, Argentina demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance when judicial and law enforcement authorities in Argentina persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention.  As a result of this failure, 100 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 69 months.  Argentina has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.

Central Authority: The Department enjoyed a productive partnership with the Argentina Central Authority in 2016, and observed a commitment by the executive branch of the government to attempt to improve Hague performance in the country.  That said, the United States is concerned that Argentina does not resolve cases in a timely manner, and urges the Argentine authorities to take appropriate steps to address this situation.


Location: Argentina demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention as evidenced by the failure by the competent authorities to take appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed.  The average time to locate a child was 14 months and 15 days.  As of December 31, 2016, there is one case where Argentine authorities remain unable to confirm the location of a child.  Argentina has failed to locate this child since 2013.  As a result, the Hague case remained stalled before the court.
Judicial Authorities: The Argentine judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays in deciding Convention cases.  Two open cases have been before the courts for seven and six years respectively, with final resolution still pending.  Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for over four years.
Enforcement: As a result of serious delays by the Argentine 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 2016.
Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of two open access cases under the Convention in Argentina.  Both cases were filed with the Argentine Central Authority.  No new cases were filed in 2016.  By December 31, 2016, one access case was resolved and one case remained open.  This remaining case was pending with the Argentine authorities for more than 12 months.
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue intensified engagement with Argentine 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.