Hague Abduction Convention

The government has clarified that it is not yet ready to sign the Hague treaty on the inter-country abduction of children by parents fleeing a bad marriage. On the other hand, the government is planning to follow the Japan example and put safeguards in place before acceding to the Hague treaty.

There has been immense pressure from the U.S. on the government to sign the treaty though the government has long held the view that the decision could lead to harassment of women escaping marital discord or domestic violence.

A Committee headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal, in April, had submitted its report on legal issues related to Inter-country removal & retention of children to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

‘Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’:

The Committee has recommended that the Government may establish an ‘Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority’.

The Authority may be chaired by a retired High Court Judge, with Members from Legal and Social sector background along with representatives from key Ministries.

Functions of the authority: The authority has been envisaged to provide a one window solution in cases of intercountry removal and retention of Children. The Authority may examine the inter-country cases of removal and retention of children vis-a-vis the cultural context, the merit of the case, and the best interest of the Child.

Over three crore Indians living abroad have cross-border marriages. When such a diverse family unit breaks down, children suffer as they are dragged into an international legal battle between their parents. Inter-spousal child removal is one of the most unfortunate outcomes of such breakups. Children are “abducted” by one parent and taken to a country with a different culture. This can be traumatic as they are also cut off from the other parent.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980):

The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty whereby the contracting states will have to cooperate with each other in expeditiously sending back the runaway parent and the child to the country of the child’s ‘habitual residence’.

It seeks to return children abducted or retained overseas by a parent to their country of habitual residence for the courts of that country to decide on matters of residence and contact.

The convention shall apply to any child, up to the age of 16 years who is a habitual resident of any of the contacting states.

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