Step forward for campaign to close legal ‘loophole’ on child abduction in Scotland | HeraldScotland

27th May 2018
Step forward for campaign to close legal ‘loophole’ on child abduction in Scotland
Peter Swindon @PeterSwindon
Senior reporter, Sunday Herald

CAMPAIGNERS against abduction of children by a parent have hailed a Scottish Government consultation on a change in the law as a “positive development”.
Scottish minsters are under pressure to close a “loophole” which means a parent can’t always be prosecuted if they take a child overseas from Scotland without the consent of the other parent.
If a child is taken overseas from England and Wales it is a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984 but the law only applies in Scotland if a court order preventing travel is already in place.

Lawyer Yousif Ahmed, from Glasgow, is leading a campaign to remove the requirement for a court order so that Scotland’s law on child abduction is brought into line with the rest of the UK.
A meeting between campaigners and Scottish Government officials was held this week after it was announced that the so-called loophole will be examined as part of a wider consultation on family law reform.
Ahmed said: “The current Scottish framework fails to protect children and parents in Scotland and far too many children and parents have been let down by a loophole that fails to protect them from this abuse.
“Scottish ministers need to take action to address this ongoing problem. In a joint effort, we have highlighted in great detail the various shortcomings and failures that exist in the Scottish framework and the changes that are needed.
“The Scottish Government has heard the voice of the campaign and has taken our message on board. We are very pleased that as a result of our campaign work, it has now issued a consultation on proposals to reform the law. This is a fantastic achievement within a short space of time.”
Scottish Government figures show the number of international child abduction cases have risen over the last 10 years, from two cases in 2007 to 20 cases in 2016.
The government consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 is “seeking views on how civil and criminal child abduction by parents can be further prevented”.

The consultation states there may be a need for a “minor change” to Section 2 of the 1995 Act which would mean a court order is no longer required for it to be an offence to remove a child from Scotland without appropriate consent.
Ahmed, who is director of legal services at Cannons Law Practice, added: “I would ask everyone to get behind this extremely positive development by encouraging the Scottish Government to implement the proposals set out in the consultation and effect the positive legislative change that is needed in Scotland.
“Together, we can make a difference and achieve a positive and lasting change that will help to protect children and parents all across the country from this abuse.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There is already legislation in place making it an offence in Scotland for a person connected with a child under 16 to take or send the child out of the UK without the appropriate consent where a court order is in place awarding custody of the child to another person or prohibiting removal of the child from the UK.
“Depending on the circumstances of the case, someone suspected of child abduction may also be charged with the common law offences of abduction or plagium.
“The consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 seeks views on a range of issues, including whether to change the law in Scotland on parental child abduction and we welcome the constructive contribution from campaigners on this issue.”

 

Source:  “Step forward for campaign to close ‘legal loophole’ on child abduction in Scotland”,  The Sunday Herald, 27 May 2018

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US State Department 2018 report on child abduction – Japan excerpt

Country Summary: The Hague Abduction Convention entered into force between the United States and Japan in 2014. Since then Japan has made measurable progress on international parental child abduction. The number of abductions to Japan reported to the Department has decreased since the Convention came into force for Japan. Despite this progress, in cases where taking parents refused to comply with court return orders, there were no effective means to enforce the order, resulting in a pattern of noncompliance. As a result of this failure, 22 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 10 months. The Department continues to urge Japan to resolve the 21 pre-Convention abduction cases that remained open at the end of the year, all of which have been outstanding for many years.

 
Initial Inquiries: In 2017, the Department received three initial inquiries from parents regarding possible abductions to Japan where no completed applications were submitted to the Department.

 
Central Authority: The United States and the Japanese Central Authorities have a strong and productive relationship that facilitates the resolution of abduction cases under the Convention. The Japanese Central Authority has focused effectively on preventing abductions, expanding mediation between parents, and promoting voluntary returns. The average number of children reported abducted to Japan each year has decreased by 44 percent since 2014, when the Convention came into force in Japan.
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 2017, four abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.

 
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 15 days.
Judicial Authorities: The judicial authorities of Japan routinely reached timely decisions in accordance with the Convention. Japanese courts routinely issued orders pursuant to the Convention for children’s return.

 
Enforcement: Unless the taking parent voluntarily complied with a return order under the Convention, judicial decisions in Convention cases in Japan were not enforced. There are two cases (accounting for 100 percent of the unresolved cases) that have been pending for more than 12 months where law enforcement has failed to enforce the return order. Japan’s inability to quickly and effectively enforce Hague return orders appears to stem from limitations in Japanese law including requirements that direct enforcement take place in the home and presence of the taking parent, that the child willingly leave the taking parent, and that the child face no risk of psychological harm. As a result, it is very difficult to achieve enforcement of Hague return orders. In addition, the enforcement process is excessively long. Left-behind parents who have obtained Hague return orders can spend more than a year in follow-on legal proceedings seeking an order to enforce the Hague order.

 
Access: In 2017, the U.S. Central Authority acted on a total of 37 open access cases under the Convention in Japan. Of these, three cases were opened in 2017. A total of 36 access cases have been filed with the Japanese Central Authority, including two of the three cases opened in 2017. By December 31, 2017, six cases (16 percent) have been resolved and five cases have been closed for other reasons. Of those resolved, one was as a result of a voluntary agreement between the parents. By December 31, 2017, 26 access cases remained open, including 23 that have been active for more than 12 months without achieving meaningful access. The total number of Convention access cases at the beginning of 2017 includes 14 pre-Convention abduction cases that later filed for access under the Convention. Of these, one resolved, four closed for other reasons, and nine remained open at the end of 2017. In addition to filing for Hague access, these LBPs continue to seek the return of their abducted children.

 
Pre-Convention Cases: At the end of 2017, 12 pre-Convention abduction cases remained open in Japan. In 2017, seven pre-Convention cases were resolved and one pre-Convention case was closed for other reasons. In these cases, the parents have chosen not to file for access under the Convention.

 
Department Recommendations: The Department will continue its engagement with relevant Japanese authorities to address the areas of concern highlighted in this report.

 

 

Read the full report here (section on Japan at pages 21 to 22)

 

 

See also:  “US cites Japan for non compliance with Hague treaty on cross border parental child abductions”, The Japan Times, 18 May 2018

Six and a half years on…

Hugo

Today marks 6 and a half years since you were abducted to Japan so I thought I’d post a short note to you today with some bits of news for you.

Yesterday saw Prince Harry get married to Meghan Markle. The Prince is a few years younger than me and I remember watching him and his brother grow up when I was growing up so that shows how quickly time passes. I watched part of the television coverage from Windsor. It was reported that a billion people watched the proceedings around the world and it struck me that you might well have been one of them. I well remember the time when Prince Andrew married in 1986 when I was about the age you are now.

Tomorrow I have again been roped in to walk the 10 km London legal walk. According to my professional magazine, over 12,000 people are to participate this year. Because of the numbers, there are two routes again this year – one going down and then back up the other side of the Thames and the other through the parks. Not sure which route the team that I am going with is to take this year – we took the park route last year which also took in a bit of the River as well. I will try and take some photos for you again as I did last year, particularly if we take the river route this time.

On a much sadder note, on 28 May 2018, it will be exactly 10 years since Grandad, the Great grandfather you never met, passed away. As I’ve said before you were born 6 months to the day after he died. Along with you, he is the person I think about a lot. He achieved a lot in his life; he obtained a PhD from Cambridge University and went on to become the deputy head of a Ministry of Defence research facility.  He was involved in the design in the 1960s of the satellite dishes that adorned the BT Tower until quite recently; at the time they were state-of-the art and stood the test of time (the article that this link goes to is written by someone with the same name as me).  His ashes are interred in west London and I will go and visit him again later this month.

Hope you are keeping well.

Japan Times “in search of” column (13 May 2018)

There was a child abduction related piece in The Japan Times today; I set out below relevant extracts from it.  The full article can be read here.


 

How-tos | LIFELINES

The Japan Times

Readers reach out to lost friends and family in Japan
by Louise George Kittaka
Contributing Writer

May 13, 2018 

 

Here is another of our occasional “in search of” columns featuring people hoping for a blast from their pasts, along with an update on efforts to help children and parents in international abduction cases.

 

[…]

 

Next is a father looking for his daughter. Michael Spangler lost touch when his Japanese girlfriend — and the mother of his child — married someone else. His daughter was born on Dec. 16, 1996, christened Tina, and later renamed Mina. He notes that his former girlfriend chose to end contact at that time but assured him that she would support their daughter if, upon reaching adulthood, she wanted to get back in touch with her father. As Mina is now 21, Michael hopes this will be possible. “I am not trying to interfere in their lives in any way. I only would like to find a way to have some type of connection and relationship with my daughter,” he writes.

 

[…]

 

On parental child abduction

Also helping to connect loved ones is Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion (Kizuna CPR), a Japan-based NPO that has been mentioned before in Lifelines. Kizuna CPR advocates for international families torn apart through divorce or child abduction, with the aim of enabling children to have stable relationships with both parents under such circumstances. Representative John Gomez talked to Lifelines about the NPO’s latest news.
“We launched the G-7 Kidnapped to Japan Reunification Project with the objective of putting the parental child-abduction problem on the agenda of the G-7 Summit, to be held in Canada on June 8 and 9. Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion has entered into a working relationship with International Alliance Partners to achieve this objective. These partners are parents in member countries of the G-7 with abduction cases to Japan, and are from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.”
In 2014 Japan formally joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which states that children under 16 should be returned to their country of “habitual residence” if abducted across international borders by one parent. The treaty is not retroactive, however. According to Gomez, Japan is not complying with the Hague Convention and two other international treaties on children’s rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) and the Vienna Convention.
“If applicable, these can be used as a legal premise in cases to petition for access to children if they were taken prior to when the Hague Convention took effect in Japan. In the Hague Convention, rights of access could be applied for in cases that occurred before the Hague took effect, if the child was living outside of Japan prior to being taken,” Gomez explains. “The UNCRC is applicable in all cases. The Vienna Convention should enable consular officials to access the children in Japan.”
For more information about Kizuna CPR, visit http://www.kizuna-cpr.org/g7-kidnapped-to-japan. For comments and questions, or if you have any information that might assist the readers searching for family and friends, please contact lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution on international parental child abduction – 19 April 2018

[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 64 (Thursday, April 19, 2018)]
[Page S2330]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

SUPPORTING THE GOALS AND IDEALS OF “INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD
ABDUCTION MONTH”

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the
Foreign Relations Committee be discharged from further consideration of
and the Senate now proceed to the consideration of S. Res. 431.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The clerk will report the resolution by title.
The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A resolution (S. Res. 431) supporting the goals and ideals
of “International Parental Child Abduction Month” and
expressing the sense of the Senate that Congress should raise
awareness of the harm caused by international parental child
abduction.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the
resolution.
Mr. McCONNELL. I ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed
to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be
considered made and laid upon the table.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The resolution (S. Res. 431) was agreed to.
The preamble was agreed to.
(The resolution, with its preamble, is printed in the Record of March
12, 2018, under “Submitted Resolutions.”)

____________________

Source:  US Congress, Congressional Record, vol 164, no 64, page S2330, 19 April 2018

See also:  “Lawmakers consider issue of international child kidnappings”, Voice of America News, 26 April 2018