Child Abduction Conference, 9 February 2018

I attended the 1 King’s Bench Walk annual child abduction conference on Friday. I have attended every year since 2014 and the conference has been running since 2003 so this was the 15th year. It was again chaired by Richard Harrison, QC. I will single out just two of the talks.

 
There was an interesting opening talk by Mr Justice Francis. He was appointed to the High Court bench relatively recently and was the judge in the distressing Charlie Gard case which made news around the world in 2017. He spoke about that and about international cases involving children. He made the point that better liaison between judges of different countries would help to improve the quality of judicial decision making in countries were that was an issue as well as helping to better manage individual cases being litigated in two countries. He was also critical of countries which assigned low level family judges to abduction cases given the importance of the same: in the UK all abduction cases are dealt with in the High Court.

 
As in previous years, a talk was given by a representative of the charity Reunite. This was the only part of the day that Japan was mentioned, twice. In the course of the presentation, the speaker revealed that Reunite is currently working with the Japanese authorities to promote co-mediation. At the end of the presentation the chairman asked the speaker whether there were any “particularly challenging” Hague countries in terms of the recovery of children. The speaker replied, as I knew she would, by saying simply “Japan”. She it appeared did not seem to see the need to expand on this answer but when asked to do so by the chairman she went on to explain that “enforcement is not pushed” in Japan because it is “not engrained in its legal culture.” She also said that she did not see this changing any time soon.

 
This was just intended as a short write-up; anyone wanting to know more is welcome to get on contact.

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14 December 2017

Hello Hugo

It is my 40th birthday today.  I was aged 30 the day that you were born in late 2008.  I have tried to “involve” you in my day today:  the first thing that I did today was to once again visit the spot at Heathrow Airport where I last saw you.  After that I took the train to Paddington from where I walked to the nearby Regent’s Park.  This is one of my favourite places in London and I remember being taken there by my own parents when I was a similar age to you.  I have now come into work for a few hours but plan to leave early to visit the National Portrait Gallery, Westminster Cathedral and the theatre later today.  Below are some photographs that I took of the Park.

 

 

Message for Hugo – 6 years on…

Hello Hugo
In London it has just turned midnight on 20 November 2017.
We last saw each other at an airport 6 years ago today.  I, of course, don’t expect you to remember – how could I as you were still a toddler.  The date, however, shall remain with me, as your loving father, forever.
The date coincides with two very different anniversaries.  In the UK the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their wedding anniversary today (their 70th).  November 20 also marks the anniversary of the signing in New York in 1989 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (itself signed on the 30th anniversary of adopting of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959).  The 1989 Convention came into force the following year and included the following provisions:
A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. 
Article 10, sub section 2. 
States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
Article 11, sub section 1.
These are but two provisions that can be said to relate to us but, as our experience has shown these 6 years, the reality that meets these words is very different.
Earlier this year also saw the passing, on 12 May 2017, of exactly 2,000 days from when I last saw you.
As I did last year, I will leave work early later today to visit the spot at the airport where I last saw you at the time when I last saw you. Also today, as it’s your 9th birthday in 8 days’ time, I will go to the Post Office to send you your birthday package.  I will post here again on your birthday, as I always do, and also later today with a more general update about the blog.
I hope and pray that in a year’s time this will all have changed.  For now, though, please remember that there is not a moment when I am not thinking about you, my beloved and now not so little boy.  May God bless, protect and watch over you this day and all days.
Daddy

Heavy rain in your prefecture this summer

Hello Hugo

I was concerned to read about the bad weather in Hiroshima today, as documented in the article below.  I hope that you are fine.  In London, we are gearing up to a further heatwave following on from the last one that set records.  Hope that you can see that I am always looking out for you, whatever the distance.

The Japan Times

Man dies in Hiroshima Prefecture, children missing in Fukuoka after heavy rain hits west

KYODO, STAFF REPORT

One person died after being swept away by a swollen river and six people, including some children, have been reported missing after heavy rain hit western Japan on Wednesday, officials said.

More than 60,000 residents of Hiroshima and Shimane prefectures were temporarily advised to evacuate.

In Fukuoka Prefecture, six people are feared to have been buried in mud or swept away in swollen rivers in the city of Asakura and Uki, local police said Wednesday evening, adding that the missing include children.

In Hiroshima, a 93-year-old man was found dead in a river in the city’s Asakita Ward. He is believed to have been swept away when water levels rose due to torrential rain that pummeled the two prefectures earlier.

Another man in his 60s suffered a minor injury after he was hit by a landslide in Masuda, Shimane Prefecture while he was evacuating, police said.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed relevant ministries and agencies to grasp the situation and come up with quick measures to prevent further damage in the affected regions.

The city of Hamada in Shimane, which faces the Sea of Japan, saw hourly precipitation of over 80 mm Wednesday morning, as a seasonal rain front brought in moist air from the East China Sea and caused a strip of storm clouds to develop, the Meteorological Agency said.

The agency issued an emergency warning for heavy rain over parts of Shimane Prefecture on Wednesday morning.

“(Shimane) is seeing really heavy rain like it has never seen before,” an agency official said at a news conference held at 7 a.m. Wednesday. “This is an extraordinary situation in which serious crises are approaching. Some disasters, such as landslides and floods, may already be occurring.”

The emergency warning — issued in the cities of Hamada and Masuda and the towns of Onan and Tsuwano — was lifted before noon.

The prefectural governments issued evacuation orders and advisories Wednesday to a total of 28,000 residents in 13,000 households in Hamada, Masuda and Onan, and 36,000 residents in 16,000 households in five municipalities in Hiroshima Prefecture, including the city of Akitakata.

West Japan Railway Co. said the JR Sanin Line suspended operations Wednesday morning between Hamada and Masuda stations as sediment under the rails was found running off at two locations.

Service on the JR Sanko Line, which connects the cities of Miyoshi and Gotsu in Hiroshima Prefecture, was also suspended.

Source:  “Man dies in Hiroshima Prefecture, children missing in Fukuoka after heavy rain hits west”, The Japan Times, 5 July 2017