International Instruments for Dealing with Abducted Children

Three important international instruments

There are three provisions that have been put in place for the protection and safe return of abducted children that apply internationally:

  1. The Hague Convention

  2. Brussels P Regulations

  3. European Convention

This article looks at The Hague Convention.

The Hague Convention

  • The Hague convention has 80 contracted states that are bound by the convention itself. Some of these states include the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Several African states including South Africa and most European States.

  • States that have not signed up to the protection by the Hague Convention include India, Pakistan and China (exc.  Hong Kong and Macau) 

Aims and objectives of the Hague Convention

  • The main aim of the Hague Convention is to secure the prompt return of the child(ren) and to secure respect for the rights of the child(ren) in question.

  • Art 12- Provides remedies for breach of rights to custody – including speedy return of the child 

Basis of the Hague Convention

  • Where an application is made for the return of a child from one of the contracting states under the Hague Convention , the court is directed not to consider the merits of the case, background information, previous dealings etc, but is to make a decision solely based on whether or not the child should be returned.

  • The reasoning behind the conventions approach is that they believe the children’s best interests will generally be met by prompt return to their home country. If the trial was to consider all the merits of the case this would be a lengthy process. Art 13 does set out limited grounds on which the Hague convention can refuse to order the child’s return. 

  • It will then be for the home state, the country where the Child lives to decide any Case regarding the merits and facts of the situation. 

When does the Hague Convention Apply?

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For more information on:

  • Applications for the child’s return
  • Reasons for not ordering the child’s return