Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arresting, Prosecuting, and Jailing International Parental Child Abductors May Dramatically Stop Kidnappings

Arresting, prosecuting, and jailing international parental child abductors would more than likely have a positive impact on the number of children who are internationally kidnapped each year.

The reason behind this notion is that the majority of scheming, fraudster, scamming abductors do not believe that they will be prosecuted or go to jail for their act of kidnapping. They think that because they are the parent of the child they have snatched, they have immunity. 

Sadly, and all too often, they have been right as judges and law enforcement have been reluctant to prosecute. Is it complicated?  You bet it is. And the choice for a targeted parent or law enforcement officer to seek criminal charges against a parental abductor are not easy. This is discussed below.

However, we must remind ourselves . . . and it is not difficult to do so, but we must, that parental child abduction is a highly abusive criminal act against a child. Along the way, and prior to the abduction, a conspired scheme against a targeted parent and defenseless child is hatched. One that often includes the breach of many criminal laws or court orders.

And very rarely do we ever speak about the targeted parent. Make no mistake, they too are victims of schemes associated with IPCA. Often, they lose everything: the financial burden of reunification falls on their shoulders. The consumption of their child disappearing in a sea of 7 billion people envelopes them. The are enveloped by the reality that their child is being taught to hate while also living the life of a fugitive. And most of all, in their sense of hopelessness, they are the candle holders of the other parents truth: often a truth concerning a sociopath willing to do anything to accomplish their narcissistic goals. Quietly, at times they look up into the sky, perhaps at times seeing the constellation Orion, or the Big Dipper, and they may pray that their child is alive, for they know, but they don't want to admit it, that parental child murder is real.  And so, they live a life consumed by fear, disappointment, and helplessness.

All because their child's other parent internationally kidnapped their child, and to date, the laws that govern a child's return home make it rather long and difficult to bring them. home.

And that stinks.

So here we are. The summer is approaching. Summer is known as the high season for international parental child abduction.

When a child is internationally abducted, there are three legal remedies available for U.S. citizens seeking to reunite with their child. Please note, that going to the country where your child was abducted to and removing them from that country could be viewed by that country as a criminal act even if you have sole custody in the United States (or anywhere else that you may live). The legal ways to reunite with your child include:

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: In nations that have signed the Hague Convention, there is a civil process that facilitates the return of abducted children under 16 to their home countries.

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) of 1993: A criminal arrest warrant can be issued for a parent who takes a juvenile under 16 outside of the U.S. without the other custodial parent’s permission.

Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP)—Parental Kidnapping: When criminal charges are filed by a state that requests our help, a criminal arrest warrant can be issued for an abducting parent who flees across state lines or internationally.

Globally, the pandemic of cross-border child kidnappings grows (It should be noted that reported cases of abduction originating from the U.S. has declined by 15% over the past two years after nearly 30 years of growth: the drop in kidnappings is not believed to be a reflection of what is occurring globally).

The challenge with a criminal processes is that though it may lead to the arrest of the abducting parent, it does not specifically order for the return of the child, although the child is usually returned when the parent is apprehended.  Often, judges in other countries may appear hesitant to return a child if they know the abductor is going to be jailed because there is a misconception that doing so would not be 'in the best interest of the child'. 

Personally, I think that this is a wrong approach, particularly since the majority of scheming, scamming, fraudster child abducting parents have no concern about arrest. 

It should be noted that the general characteristics of the majority of child abductors according to numerous government and non-government organizations is that they are sociopaths with narcissistic tendencies.  Sadly, the act of abduction itself has everything to do with the sociopath seeking revenge against the other parent. Thus, they abduct the child in order to cause that parent pain and suffering.

So without concern of retribution and without regard to the child or their true target: the other parent, the conspire and create a disgraceful criminal scheme to abduct. Almost always, they will try to have the other parent arrested prior to the abduction.  In addition, online defamation and slander is used against the targeted parent in order to try to have the abductor's act of kidnapping sanctioned by a foreign court under Article 13 b of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The end result all too often?  A kidnapper is given a green-light pass to attempt to destroy the targeted parent's other life. And many abductors no this . . . in many court cases the I CARE Foundation has assisted families in crisis due to abduction, there have been many instances where evidence has been presented to court establishing that the abductor had no concern for any retribution, and buoyed by that safeguard, escalated their attack on their target.  In the process, their abuse directed toward the child also escalated.

But perhaps it might be most beneficial to arrest a person who is scheming to commit abduction. Conceivably, there are many acts of fraud, contempt, and misrepresentation that occurs during the pre-abduction stage.  Arresting schemers would send a strong message to anyone thinking of kidnapping a child to think again.

International parental child abduction prevention awareness has played a critical role in decreasing the abduction rate in the United States these past two years. Much credit must go to the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, and the men and women who work day-in and day-out assisting families of abduction.

But the fact remains, as indicated by the nearly 800 reported cased of IPCA in 2012 (and the estimated 800 to 1,200 unreported cases of IPCA), that there still remains a large problem in the U.S. One that is mirrored, if not magnified abroad.

Now I have said for years that I am a strong supporter of the Hague Convention. I still am. However, like most things in life, interpretation of the Hague by a signatory member state is subjective. All too often a country may not comply with the intent and spirit of the convention.

And there are stall tactics an abductor and their lawyers may use during litigation which will only increase the already extremely high cost of litigation for the victimized parent.  Without the financial ability to litigate a Hague Case, the chances of a parent reuniting with their child are slim.

Now going back to the U.S. Federal Government's authority in parental kidnapping cases, this stems from the Fugitive Felon Act as part of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1073–UFAP.

Most of all if there is one message I would like to share with a parent who is thinking about removing a child from their country of jurisdiction without a court's order or permission from the other parent to relocate please listen to what I have to say:  A child who is brought into the world of cross-border litigation will suffer extreme hardship regardless of what you think you can do to alleviate this concern. Having been involved personally with abduction and having assisted a large number of families who have had to deal with a cross-border custody dispute, I can assure you no person wins. Instead, your child suffers greatly, while the road you and your family will travel on is far from easy. In fact, it is treacherous. And no matter how big of a support system you think you have: nothing will remove the storms you will face.  So if you desire to relocate abroad, do it the legal way: go to court and seek mobility. In addition, if you are a parent facing real abuse, seek the aid of law enforcement and advocacy groups familiar with abuse before you consider illegally removing your child.  This is not to say that if you believe your life is in danger, to sit tight and do something. Do something - but do it within the confines of the legal system.

The following was sourced from the U.S. Department of State's website and has been provided in order to provide State's view on options a parent may have available to them :

Your Decision to Use Criminal Charges.
Your decision about whether to pursue criminal charges against the taking parent is a difficult one that should be made through consultation with your legal representative and in consideration of its potential impact on other aspects of your efforts to secure your child’s return. The Office of Children’s Issues can provide information about U.S. laws that make parental abduction a crime, resources for how to pursue a criminal warrant, and observations about some of the potential consequences of such an action based on knowledge of the laws and/or practices in the country to which your child has been abducted. We cannot, however, recommend a specific course of action or guarantee a specific outcome.
Depending on the circumstances, criminal charges filed against the taking parent can either help or hinder the successful return of your child. Therefore, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and to obtain legal advice from an attorney before making the decision that you believe is best for your child. The purpose of a criminal warrant is to authorize law enforcement officials to apprehend and present the taking parent for prosecution. Your child is not subject to the warrant, which means that successful apprehension of the taking parent will not necessarily result in the return of your child. It can, however, serve as a negotiation tool since the taking parent may agree to voluntarily return the child in exchange for leniency or dropped charges.
The existence of criminal charges may also negatively impact a foreign court’s decision about whether to order or deny your child’s return under the Hague Abduction Convention. Although the Hague Abduction Convention pertains to children, not to their taking parents, in practice many judges are reluctant to order a return if the taking parent cannot accompany the child back to the United States. If the judge hearing the Hague Abduction Convention case is aware the taking parent faces arrest upon arrival, the judge may deny the return or order it only if the criminal charges are dropped. While you may request withdrawal of criminal charges against the taking parent, only the entity which issued the charges and/or a judge has the authority do so and may not agree to your request.
You will need to consider your goals and the implications criminal charges may have for you and your child. The prosecutor, the laws of the country where your child is located, and the taking parent’s behavior will all have an effect on how successful criminal charges are in securing your child’s return. Understanding these considerations may help you predict whether criminal charges can be an effective option for you and your child.
Pros and Cons of Pressing Criminal Charges:
  • The process of filing criminal charges may help you locate your child.
  • A criminal charge will potentially facilitate cooperation from foreign law enforcement authorities by authorizing issuance of an INTERPOL red notice.
  • If the taking parent is a U.S. Citizen, criminal warrants can serve as justification to revoke his ir her passport, thus limiting subsequent international travel and potentially creating obstacles for his or her ability to remain legally in a foreign country.
  • Public awareness of the successful prosecution of a taking parent may deter other from abducting their children.
  • An outstanding criminal warrant may deter a voluntary or negotiated return if a taking parent believes that he or she may be arrested whey they return to the United States.
  • Criminal charges may adversely affect Hague return proceedings. Some judges nay refuse to order a child’s return if there is a warrant for the taking parent's arrest.
  • Criminal charges may encourage a taking parent to go deeper into hiding to avoid arrest. This is especially true when the taking parent has family or deep ties in the community.
  • The arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of the taking parent could be emotionally damaging for the child.
  • The goals of the criminal justice system to arrest a taking parent may be in conflict with your wishes, and once initiated, the prosecutor has control of any and all criminal proceedings. How these proceedings develop will be out of your hands.
Begin by Contacting Law Enforcement
When your child is missing you should immediately report the abduction to law enforcement. Law Enforcement should respond immediately, and enter your child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person Database. The initial response from law enforcement could determine whether or not a child is quickly and safely recovered.
Entering your child into NCIC does not automatically initiate criminal proceedings against the taking parent. It is best to consult with an attorney before you decide to pursue criminal charges. Depending on your State laws, law enforcement may require that you have a custody order, before seeking criminal warrants.
HELPFUL HINT: We recommend you keep a record of all of your correspondence with all parties you interact with, including law enforcement. Note as well all the names of the people you speak to, the dates and times of the conversation, and the information that was provided.
  • Your Local Police: Most international abductions are first reported to your local police. If they pursue warrants, your local police (in coordination with the local prosecutor) may seek issuance of a warrant based on your state's criminal parental kidnapping laws. You may also want to arrange to meet with your local prosecutor's office to understand law enforcement's considerations for moving forward, and to advocate for your cases.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): You may also report your case directly to the FBI at the field office nearest your home. If possible, you should consider meeting with the Assistant U.S. Attorney to discuss the possibility of pursuing federal criminal charges against the taking parent. The FBI may decide to treat the abduction as a felony under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act. Visit for more information.
HELPFUL HINT: Many law enforcement professionals have limited experience with parental child abduction cases and specifically, with procedures in international parental abduction cases. The Office of Children's Issues can provide resources and communicate with law enforcement officials about the federal laws that will authorize them to assist
Criminal Warrants
  • Coordinated Effort: Successful resolution of international parental child abduction cases through use of criminal charges required a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities.In some cases, U.S. law enforcement will also enlist the help of INTERPOL and foreign law enforcement to carry out an investigation.
  • Foreign Police, Customs, and Laws: Be aware that parental abduction is not a crime in most countries, and this can hinder efforts to prosecute a taking parent. Other factors that may obstruct the process are local customs as they relate to religion, gender, nationality, and other factors.
  • Foreign Criminal Charges: You should always consult an attorney in the foreign country if you intend to pursue foreign criminal charges against the taking parent. In some countries, you may be able to pursue the prosecution of the taking parent by the authorities of the country where the child is found. In many countries, citizens can be prosecuted for crimes committed abroad if the act is a criminal offense under local law; however, parental abduction is rarely considered a crime outside of the United States.

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