International Abduction – Children Now Protected

Justice Minister Lord McNally promised that the Government would ensure that children from the UK and other countries are protected no matter where they or their parents live. He said, “By enforcing child protection orders we are ensuring that children from the UK will receive the best possible care as decided by the court.”


The Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The Convention provides a method to return a child abducted by a parent from one signatory state to another. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their main country of residence or wrongfully retained in another country. The aim of the Convention is to deter a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a sympathetic court. It only applies to children under the age of 16.


From 1 November 2012, a whole range of court decisions involving children moving to and from participating states has been enforced under the Convention. These include decisions as to who has parental responsibility, to what extent and how it can be used, custody rights, the right to decide the child’s place of residence, and rights of access.


The Convention is not retrospective, however, and only applies to decisions about the protection of a child taken on or after 1 November. Recognition and enforcement of judgments between the UK and EU Member States has applied since March 2005 and will continue to be used.


“Adoption of the Convention is an important step in the fight to protect children from estranged parents and others who may try to take them beyond the protection of the UK courts,” says Helena Downing“ From now on the process of returning a child who has been wrongfully taken from their proper home should be much simpler.”