WKRN News: Franklin brother, sister still missing after 9 years

Franklin brother, sister still missing after 9 years

By: Linda Ong
Posted: Aug 23, 2018 04:00 AM CDT
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 10:26 AM CDT

http://www.WKRN.com
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nine years have passed since Rebecca and Isaac Savoie went missing from Franklin, Tennessee.
The kids, six and eight at the time, were at the center of a divorce that took them more than 6,000 miles away from Middle Tennessee to Japan.
Their father, Christopher Savoie, made world headlines, after allegedly trying to recover his children from Japan.

“Elation left for a few minutes, and now we’re back to square one,” said Amy Savoie, Christopher’s wife, in an interview in 2009.
Christopher returned home from that trip in October of 2009 empty-handed, igniting a nearly decade-long overseas battle to get his kids back from their mother, his ex-wife Noriko Esaki.
“Divorce is hard for any family, and for kids involved in it,” said Lt. Charles Warner of the Franklin Police Department.
The department has been overseeing the case from day one.

“Any parental abduction, or custodial interference case, is difficult in itself,” said Lt. Warner. “Take them outside the state of Tennessee, and it grows even more complicated. Take things outside of the U.S. and things grow even more complex.”
The last time Christopher saw his children was August 11, 2009.
That morning, Noriko picked up Isaac and Rebecca for school from Christopher’s house, in the Fieldstone Farms neighborhood in Franklin.
Two days later, Williamson County School officials notified Christopher that his kids didn’t show up to Winstead Elementary.

August 17, the Savoies report to Franklin police that Noriko abducted Isaac and Rebecca and had taken them to Japan.
“Per case report, Chris had full custody of the children,” said Lt. Warner. “She didn’t have any right to remove them from his custody or care and certainly not from the United States.”
The challenge for detectives became the kids now being an ocean apart.
“If those kids were, if they were in Fairview, or in Clarksville, in a heartbeat, we’d be all over that,” said Lt. Warner. “But the fact is, they’re not.”
From sadness and frustration, to hope and action, Christopher’s case made the case for change.
“We’re not kidding,” said New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith. “Please send these children back to the United States and we’re not going to stop until that happens.”
In 2014, Japan joined the Hague Convention, an agreement on international child abductions.
Yet, the children weren’t returned.
Noriko, to this day, is wanted by the FBI for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and by Franklin police for custodial interference.
The offenses though aren’t recognized by a foreign government.
“It complicates things from our perspective,” said Lt. Warner. “Unless she was here, in the U.S., that warrant is basically unservable. We wish as a department there was more that we could do to help Mr. Savoie. The fact is, our hands are really tied.”
In that gray area is a sense of solace.
Regular welfare checks by federal officials, relay that Isaac and Rebecca are happy and thriving.
“In many cases, we see that parent has to move on with their lives without their children and those children have to move on with their lives without that parent. Unfortunately, since 2009, that’s been the case here,” said Lt. Warner. “Our hopes are, one day, whether, through us or their own accord, they’re able to reconcile that lost time.”
News 2 tried reaching out to Christopher Savoie but have not yet heard back.
Now that Isaac and Rebecca are 15 and 17 years old, investigators say the two now have increased ability to reach out to their father, the Embassy or Consulate.
If you have any tips on this case, you’re urged to call Crime Stoppers at 615-794-4000.
You can also directly share tips with a Franklin police detective at 615-550-6815, or the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
Click here to read more stories from our day-long project, “Missing Kid Mysteries.”

Source:  “Franklin brother, sister still missing after 9 years”, WKRN News, 23 August 2018

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Nagoya High Court orders mom to return son to dad in U.S.

Nagoya High Court orders mom to return son to dad in U.S., despite boy’s claim ‘he wants to stay in Japan’

KYODO

The Nagoya High Court ordered a woman on Tuesday to return her son to his father in the United States, saying her failure to comply with an international convention on child abductions is illegal.

The court ruled in favor of the father in a dispute between parents, who are both Japanese, over the custody of their U.S.-born son, who was brought to Japan by his mother without the father’s consent in 2016.

Presiding Judge Hisashi Toda of the high court said that although the son “claims he wants to stay in Japan, he has been living in the country being largely dependent on his mother, who wields unjust psychological influence on him.”

The mother had been ordered by the Tokyo Family Court to return the son to the United States based on the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

But she ignored the order, prompting the father to file a habeas corpus appeal with the high court’s Kanazawa branch.

The high court branch rejected his claim last November, saying, “Custody transfer would go against the son’s will.”

However, the Supreme Court in March overturned the ruling, saying it sees “clear illegality” in the mother’s failure to comply with the order, and sent the case back to the high court.

The Hague treaty sets out rules and procedures for the prompt return to the country of habitual residence of children under 16 taken or retained by one parent as a result of failed marriages, if requested by the other parent. Japan joined the convention in 2014.

Source:  “Nagoya High Court orders mom to return son to dad in US, despite boy’s claim ‘he wants to stay in Japan'”, The Japan Times, 18 July 2018

Justice Ministry panel looks to enforce custody transfers in absence of uncooperative parents

Justice Ministry panel looks to enforce custody transfers in absence of uncooperative parents

KYODO, JIJI

A government panel is considering making it easier for children to be handed over to parents who have secured custody even if the former spouse defies a court order to let them go, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

The Justice Ministry advisory panel plans to allow the hand-over of children to parents who have won custody, even in the absence of the parent defying the court order, the sources said.

In September the panel said that, in principle, removal of children by court officials would be possible only if the parent currently living with the children is present at the time.

But the panel is now proposing that only the presence of the parent who won custody is required.

The panel reviewed an earlier report after critics said the parent who had lost custody may intentionally hide to prevent the hand-over of children, and that the absence of such parents has prevented transfer of custody in the past.

Japanese legislation implementing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is expected to be revised as it currently requires the parent living with the children to be at the scene when children are handed over to the parent with legal custody.

“I hope to see an effective (legal revision) that will also give maximum consideration to the mental and physical well-being of children,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told a news conference Tuesday.

The convention, to which Japan acceded in 2014, set out rules and procedures to allow for the prompt return of children under 16 taken or retained by one parent to the country of habitual residence, if requested by the other parent.

There is currently no stipulation in Japan’s legal system regarding parents who do not abide by court orders to hand over children to their former spouse. Such disputes have been handled based on regulations regarding the seizure of assets.

According to the proposal in the interim report, divorced parents who defy a court order and refuse to let their children go would be fined until they yield, in order to encourage them to voluntarily abide by the court decision. After compiling a fresh outline that includes the latest review the panel is set to submit its proposal to the Justice Ministry, possibly in autumn.

Last month, the U.S. State Department listed Japan as one of the countries showing a pattern of noncompliance with the Hague treaty in its annual report on the issue.

It said that Japan has made “measurable progress” since 2014, but pointed out the lack of “effective means” to enforce court return orders.

Source:  “Justice Ministry panel looks to enforce custody transfer in absence of unco-operative parents”, The Japan Times, 26 June 2018 (see also Brian Prager’s comment below the article)

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

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