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Internationally abducted child!
Trans-border parental child abduction is a global phenomenon, which is alarmingly on the rise; countries need to have a widespread consensus to nip it in the bud
Pathetically, India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). Transnational parental child abduction is a global phenomenon and is becoming a matter of grave concern as cases concerning one of the parents taking his/her child from one country to the other without the permission of the other parent are on the rise. More importantly, the issue is increasingly becoming difficult to deal with for many reasons. Different countries treat the issue differently and many do not even have separate laws.
But while globalization is encouraging cross country marriages, the economic independence of individuals is also increasing the incidences of divorce. For many such reasons, the IPCA needs a special treatment from countries across the world. The Hague convention was an attempt under the leadership of the US to deter parental abduction. But due to noncompliance of the nations concerned, it remained difficult to address the issue fully. Unfortunately, as of right now India also comes in the long list of noncompliant nations.
According to US State Department, there were 1,082 outgoing IPCA cases violating the Hague Convention registered during the year 2008 involving 1615 children from the United States. 776 of those abductions were to countries that are signatories to the Convention. The number of new cases in the US has increased substantially in the last three years, from just 642 (2006), to 794 (2007), and 1,082 (2008). Ten countries accounted for 602 cases, including Mexico (316), Canada (57), United Kingdom (42), Japan (37), India (35), Germany (34), the Dominican Republic (25), Brazil (21), Australia (18), and Colombia (17). In 2008, the United States assisted in the return of 361 children who were wrongfully taken to or wrongfully retained in other countries. Of these, 248 (69%) were returned from countries that are Convention partners. This shows that violation of the convention is rampant even when a country is a signatory to the Convention. Some countries like Austria, Japan and United Kingdom are partners of the convention but on innumerable past occasions, cases haven’t been resolved at all.
India is a classic case in this context. Apparently, India cannot prevent a parent from illegally abducting a child as it is not a party to the Hague Convention. In fact, Indian laws do not even consider or recognise international parental child abduction as a crime. Most of the Indian states resolve international parental child abduction cases in session courts or lower courts – except Mumbai and Bangalore, which have separate family courts. Almost all Indian courts more or less give a special preference and consideration to mothers rather than fathers (in deciding child possession). But Indian courts refuse to recognise custody orders passed by, for example, US courts (the American government considers this a significant issue and lists this as one of the key travel considerations for US citizens visiting India).
India is not alone in being a non-signatory to the Hague Convention. Mexico, Columbia, Cuba, Russia and China are also not signatories. The reasons for not signing are not a mystery. IPCA is a transnational issue and the Hague Convention is an honest initiative; but it is seen more as an American initiative being used particularly in resolving the abduction cases of American children. While this may be good for America to an extent, until America ensures that the convention is used to assist even the noncompliant nations, the convention – which is an excellent initiative – would be ineffective.
India, for one, should become a signatory to the convention, if not on diplomatic grounds, at least on humanitarian grounds. Since the inception of the IPCA programme, more than 20,000 cases of abducted children have been registered. The documentation exists. Compare that with India, where there’s no authentic or centrally managed specific data or statistic on international Indian child abductions. At this stage of globalisation, India just cannot ignore this issue.
By:- Akram Hoque
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