Hague Convention on the Reclamation of Child Abuse Victims

The Hague Convention on Child Abduction was originally created to help stop child trafficking and serious issues of this nature.

In recent years however, it has become a tool for child abusers to reclaim their victims.

According to Reunite research almost every parent they interviewed had fled from a foreign country with their children to escape domestic violence. The perpetrators of the abuse use the Hague Convention to circumnavigate the rigorous investigation of the English court and use ‘jurisdiction’ and ‘habitual residence’ to their advantage and force the children and victim parent to their own country.

Once the victims are back in the perpetrators country, the perpetrator is are at a distinct advantage.

They are using their own language and (usually) an inferior, familiar and corruptible justice system to their advantage.

The victim parent will be unfamiliar with the legal system and language and will be at a disadvantage of being homeless and penniless after fleeing in panic from the family home.

The Hague Convention only has a very limited number of options to avoid being sent back to the other country. Either there is a risk of harm or the child objects.

Risk of Harm

If there is a real risk of harm to the children the proceedings must be in depth and every piece of evidence must heavily scrutinized, witnesses questioned and cross examined etc, just as in a real domestic violence case.

Unfortunately Hague proceedings do not allow for this. They are, in accordance with the convention, very short and quick. There is very little time to gather evidence or even to produce a half decent statement. there are no witnesses, no cross examination, no investigation and wholly rely on a hastily put together statement by an individual who has recently fled domestic violence and all the emotions and confusion that entails.

Hague Convention hearings a catastrophically inadequate to determine and risk of harm.

Child Objections

The child, if they are old enough, is interviewed by a CAFCASS officer to ascertain their views and wishes. A report is then made and supplied to the judge.

If, as in my case, the child objects for a whole host of reasons including risk of harm then the judge can refuse to send them back. Since Hague Convention hearings do not deal with custody issues. ‘jurisdiction’ and ‘habitual residence’ means the English court cannot make this kind of decision, the judge has no other option then to send the children back to the other country.

Child Objections are automatically overruled by jurisdiction issues, rendering this argument useless.

There MUST be a drastic and immediate change to the way Hague Convention hearings are carried out for the safety and protection of children.

There MUST be adequate measures to ensure that the Hague Convention is not being misused to reclaim victims of child abuse.

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Abolish Article 11(4) to Protect Children from Violence

Brussels II Regulation Article 11 (4) is inherently flawed and ineffective and should be removed for the protection of children and domestic violence victims.

For those of you uninitiated it is an international article of law designed to protect children when they are returned to their country of origin when there is clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of harm.

Practical guide here

Thing is, the very nature of the people involved in this type of case means it is prone to catastrophic, dangerous and potentially life threatening failure. A catalyst to injustice.

In our global community it is increasingly common for people from 2 different countries to have children together. When domestic violence is an issue, isolated in a foreign country, the ‘victim’ parent often flees to their own country with the children to the protection of their family.

The perpetrator of the violence can use an obscure and complex law to reclaim their child victims called the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. They essentially accuse the parent victim of abducting their own children.

Article 13b of Hague Convention says if there is clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of harm if the children are sent back the court can refuse to send them. Makes sense so far doesn’t it. Child protected, parent protected, job done.

However, and this is where the entire structure of this law fails, BIIR Article 11(4) says a court CANNOT refuse to send the children back IF there are adequate measures of protection put in place. These measures are often in the form of undertakings. The parties agree to the court that they will or will not do something, such as not go within 100m of the victim and not to try and prosecute for the alleged abduction and things of that nature.

So, here he have a situation where the court is telling a known criminal, a domestic violence perpetrator, to promise the court something. In the same vain as opening a jail door and telling a prisoner to promise not to walk out. Put in this light it is blindingly obvious where and how Article 11.4 fails but the judges and law makers don’t see it (yet).

For Example (taken from a real life case) If the perpetrator promises not to go within 100m of the victim, of course they will in order to intimidate the victim and get a sense of power by saying a big ‘F.You’ to the court. If they promise not to prosecute for the alleged abduction of course they will. They will tell the court in their own country that the victim has been sent back because they ‘abducted’ the children. They will tell the court that Article 13b was dismissed and conceal any evidence or mention of BIIR Article 11.4 allowing them to break any other undertakings that may have been put in place to protect their victims. And the whole thing falls apart, child victims reclaimed, parent victim punished, criminal rewarded, justice fails.

Unless the law makers use their brain, common sense and case history beyond that of the original hearing, domestic violence perpetrators will continue to use the Hague Convention to reclaim their victims.

It is in the child’s best interest to remove Brussels II Regulation Article 11.4.

If there is a risk of harm if they are sent back simply do not send them back.

I rest my case