Japan and India should be sanctioned for allowing parents to abduct American born children
On Divorce Saloon, there are a number of posts on the Hague Convention and “left behind” parents and the rights of children who are abducted, post divorce, and taken to the birth countries of one of their divorcing parents. Today, the Associated Press reports that this ongoing issue is ramping up with an increasing number of “left behind” parents coming forward and pressing the State Department to do more to protect their parental rights and that of the abducted children.
It appears that countries like Japan and India are major malfeasors on this issue. Even though both countries are prized U.S. allies – in terms of trade and, perhaps, militarily – when it comes to International child custody disputes, these two countries are notoriously non-compliant with International law. Actually, neither has signed the Hague Convention, the international treaty that governs child abductions – an agreement between nations that if a child is abducted and taken to a signatory country, the courts and government of that country will enforce the custody orders of the courts from which the child was taken.
Most of the G20 countries are signatories of the Hague. And so are most of America’s allies both in the developed and emerging economies/countries. But interestingly, not Japan. And not India. If a child is abducted in contravention of a U.S. court order, and taken to either Japan or India, the courts and governments of both these countries do NOTHING to enforce the American order of custody. That means that a parent can illegally remove a child from the jurisdiction of the American courts, flout a custody order and obtain “asylum” in Japan and India. And the left behind American parent, usually the father, will be allowed NO CONTACT whatsoever with his child until the child is an adult and of his or her own free will, makes contact with the father.
Should this be a point of negotiation in trade transactions between the United States and Japan and India? Some parents think so. According to the AP, one left behind father, an Indian/US citizen had this to say:
“Recently, during a visit to India, the Obama administration negotiated multibillion dollar trade deals and supported a U.N. Security Council seat for India,” Gopal said. “But if we can’t negotiate with India about the basic rights of our own children, that’s where America as a nation fails.”
Is the U.S. government sufficiently concerned with these human rights issues as it negotiates trade deals? Is the State Department doing enough to see to it that American court orders are respected and enforced in these rogue jurisdictions like Japan and India? The AP:
The State Department says it cares deeply about international parental child abductions, which its experts believe will increase as binational marriages become more common. The department has boosted the staff dealing with abduction cases from 18 to 65 over three years, and says it is working harder than ever to convince Japan and other Asian allies to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on international abduction.
The department’s special adviser on children’s issues, Susan Jacobs, and its top official for Asia, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, have raised the topic on multiple occasions. Campbell used the word “kidnapping” in protesting the many cases in Japan where mothers living overseas with foreign husbands returned home with their children and kept the fathers from having contact with them.
Saying it and doing it are two different things, however. It is one thing to say that the Department cares deeply about this issue, but when there are so many repeated offenders who abduct children and are allowed to disappear in countries without consequence – countries that are supposed to be friends with the United States – one has to wonder. But maybe with the GOP taking over the House in January, things might change. At least, some people hope so, including Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. Again, the AP:
After Republicans take control of the House in January, Smith hopes to become chairman of a subcommittee with oversight of human rights issues and use that post to push a bill that would toughen the U.S. approach to child abductions. The bill would establish an Office on International Child Abductions within the State Department, and create a mechanism for imposing sanctions on countries that don’t cooperate on such cases.
“We need the full weight of the federal government behind each and every one of these left-behind parents,” Smith said. “My bill doesn’t guarantee success, but it guarantees their cases will not be ignored. …We’re not going to quit until it’s law.”
Let’s hope he is successful in getting the job done on this one. This type of conducted should be proscribed in EVERY country and any country that allows this behavior on it’s soil should be sanctioned severely by the United States government. Because, it’s ridiculous. It really is.