United States Hague Abduction Convention Compliance Reports

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The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, commonly referred to as the Hague Abduction Convention, is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law that provides an expeditious method to return a child taken illegally from one country to another and was concluded on October 25, 1980[1]

As the US State Department would not voluntarily inform relevant actors about noncompliance of foreign countries in adhering to the Convention, Congress enacted an annual reporting requirement obligating the State Department to publish a detailed annual report on the reliability and effectiveness of the Convention in protecting and securing the return of abducted American children in foreign countries. It was hoped that the law would make available a unique and vitally important source of information to parents, courts, governments and attorneys worldwide.[2]

The Compliance Reports have been issued for each year since 1999 with years 2002 and 2003 combined in a single report.[3]

Initial reports were criticized for lacking the information Congress sought. Over time the reporting of the US State Department improved until they began releasing a full accounting of the numbers of abductions reported to the State Department each year and the number of children recovered. Critics[who?] still cite the fact that State does not release any demographic information such as the ages, sexes, nationalities and ethnicities of abducted children, the abducting parent or of parents able to successfully recover their children, and that the lack of this factors conceals systemic biases against various groups in various countries rendering the Hague Abduction Convention and internationally recovery of children almost impossible for these demographic groups.

Congressional discord on reporting practices by the State Department[edit]

In April 1999, the US State Department, under congressional mandate, issued the 1999 Hague Compliance Report (1999 Report). Congress immediately, and harshly, criticized the State Department for violating nearly every paragraph of the law stating that State had violated their express intent in creating it.[2]

Congress imposed additional reporting requirements for the 2000 Hague Compliance Report (2000 Report) in section 202 of H.R. 3194, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2000 declaring that State’s April 1999 Report on the Abduction Convention had failed to provide information consistent with the intent of Congress in having a full accounting of cases and countries in violation of the Hague Convention and a listing of countries which were non-compliant with the Convention.[2]

Before submission of the 2000 Report to Congress, the Chairman of the Committee on International Relations, Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman of New York, wrote Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to remind her that the 1999 Report had “engendered a high level of criticism because of shortcomings in meeting the intent of Congress in mandating this report” adding that the amended Hague compliance legislation “emphasized the aspects that are of most importance to the Congress, and to the American people, in addressing the many concerns we have heard on this subject from our citizens.” In similar fashion, the Chair and Founder of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, Congressman Nick Lampson of Texas, also wrote Secretary Albright on September 15, 2000, to make it clear that “Congress takes this reporting requirement quite seriously” and express concern that "I have received word that the Department of State is considering submission of a 2000 report to Congress that I believe could be potentially more inaccurate and more incomplete with the statutory reporting requirements than the State Department’s 1999 Report. Such a report would be unacceptable to Congress," and that, "I want to avoid any misunderstanding with the Department of State that might result in a deficient report and that would represent a step backward from the substantial efforts by Congress to improve compliance with the Hague Convention for the sake of American children and their parents, including major hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations (SFRC) and House International Relations Committees (HIRC), a unanimous Joint Resolution, statutory requirements to reform the Office of Children’s Issues, the work of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus and individual senators and representatives, and a General Accounting Office investigation (showing very low return rates to the U.S. of abducted or retained American children)."[2]

In regards to the Hague compliance report specifically, Lampson declared to Secretary Albright "I sincerely regret the two-year struggle with the State Department over this reporting requirement. Congressional efforts in 1999 to clarify, broaden, and extend the reporting requirements were made substantially more difficult by State Department opposition. Nevertheless, the legislation was substantially amended in ways that should eliminate the Department’s violations of many paragraphs of the reporting requirement last year." Ignoring Congressional leaders, the US State Department issued the 2000 report in early October of that year and was still in blatant violation of five of the seven paragraphs in the amended reporting law.[2]

2010 Compliance Report[edit]

2010 Report Cover
2010 Report Cover

The 2010 report covers the period from October 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009 (Fiscal Year of 2009.) During this period the US State Department received 1,135 new requests for assistance in the return of 1,621 children to the United States from other countries. In addition State received 324 Convention applications involving 454 children abducted to the United States from Convention partners of the United States.[4]

Abductions between Hague Convention partners
OUTGOING CASES INCOMING CASES
Convention Country New Cases # of Children New Cases # of Children
Argentina 10 11 8 12
Australia 16 29 14 22
Austria 4 5 4 6
Bahamas 7 8 7 12
Belgium 2 2 2 3
Belize 5 8 1 1
Bosnia-Herzegovina 1 1 2 5
Brazil 24 31 7 9
Bulgaria 6 6 0 0
Canada 74 104 29 39
Chile 4 5 5 6
Colombia 23 31 10 10
Costa Rica 11 13 3 5
Cyprus 1 2 0 0
Czech Republic 3 4 0 0
Denmark 1 2 4 7
Dominican Republic 16 21 8 10
Ecuador 18 24 4 7
El Salvador 13 16 3 3
Estonia 2 3 0 0
Finland 1 2 0 0
France 9 12 12 15
Germany 50 71 18 20
Greece 5 7 3 3
Guatemala 7 12 1 2
Honduras 18 26 1 2
Hungary 3 5 2 2
Iceland 1 1 0 0
Ireland 1 1 1 1
Israel 14 19 3 3
Italy 9 14 6 7
Macedonia 3 4 1 1
Mexico 309 474 75 120
Netherlands 4 7 7 10
New Zealand 7 9 1 1
Norway 5 7 1 1
Panama 10 16 2 3
Peru 10 14 7 7
Poland 14 17 2 2
Portugal 2 2 2 2
Romania 2 5 0 0
Slovakia 2 3 3 3
South Africa 12 13 7 11
Spain 8 9 6 7
Sweden 6 10 5 7
Switzerland 6 8 5 10
Turkey 4 6 2 2
Ukraine 2 4 4 5
Uruguay 3 4 1 1
Venezuela 10 15 4 5
Totals 828 1194 324 488
Abductions Between non-Convention countries
OUTGOING CASES
Non-Convention Country # of New Cases # of Children
Algeria 1 1
Bangladesh 5 7
Barbados 3 3
Belarus 1 1
Bolivia 3 3
Cambodia 1 1
China 9 9
Egypt 12 18
Ethiopia 3 3
Ghana 12 17
Guinea 1 1
Guyana 3 3
Haiti 5 8
India 34 41
Iraq 5 8
Jamaica 16 20
Japan 23 34
Jordan 12 23
Kenya 9 10
Lebanon 6 8
Malaysia 2 3
Morocco 7 8
Netherlands Antilles 1 2
Nicaragua 6 8
Nigeria 9 14
Pakistan 14 24
Philippines 20 25
Russia 16 21
Saudi Arabia 5 12
Senegal 2 3
Sierra Leone 4 4
Singapore 3 5
South Korea 6 7
Syria 5 8
Taiwan 3 6
Thailand 4 4
The Gambia 4 6
Trinidad and Tobago 9 14
Tunisia 4 5
United Arab Emirates 7 9
West Bank 1 3
Yemen 4 9
Zambia 1 1
Totals 307 427

The report also included a summary of the State's efforts to resolve 81 unresolved applications for the return of abducted American children under the Convention from 18 treaty partner countries that remained unresolved in spite of having been prior to April 1, 2008.

Countries with unresolved applications filed before April 1, 2008
Country # unresolved
Argentina 1
Austria 1
Bermuda 1
Brazil 7
Canada 1
Colombia 1
Czech Republic 1
Ecuador 1
France 1
Greece 1
Honduras 1
Israel 2
Mexico 53
New Zealand 1
Spain 1
Switzerland 3
Turkey 1
Venezuela 1

In a sharp departure from previous practice the State Department listed three countries as not compliant and only one country as "Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance," whereas, in the 2009 report, it listed seven countries in the latter category. Commenting on this "astonishing" occurrence, international family law authority Jeremy Morley noted

"Does this mean that our treaty partners are becoming more compliant with the terms of the treaty? Or that the State Department is backing off from criticising other countries in this regard? I wish it were the former but suspect that it is the latter."[5]

The report itself did not explain or acknowledge this dramatic shift in the status of "Country Noncompliance Placement."

Countries Not Compliant
Brazil
Honduras
Mexico
Countries Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance
Bulgaria

2009 Compliance Report[edit]

2010 Report Cover
2009 Report Cover

The 2009 report covers the period from October 1, 2007, through September 30, 2008 (Fiscal Year 2008.) During this period the United States Department of State was notified of 1,082 new outgoing IPCA cases involving 1,615 children. Of these, 776 were abductions to Convention partner countries. Additionally State received 344 Convention applications concerning abductions to the United States involving 484 children.

[6]

Top ten destinations for abducted American children in 2009
OUTGOING CASES
Convention Country # of New Cases # of Children
Mexico 316 533
Canada 57 83
United Kingdom 41 52
Japan 37 57
India 35 45
Germany 34 49
Dominican Republic 25 39
Brazil 21 25
Australia 18 26
Colombia 17 22

As in years 2007 and 2008 the report included Honduras as fully "Not Compliant" with a list of countries "Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance."

Countries Not Compliant
Honduras
Countries Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance
Brazil
Chile
Greece
Mexico
Slovakia
Switzerland
Venezuela

2008 Compliance Report[edit]

2008 Report Cover
2008 Report Cover

[7]

Countries Not Compliant
Honduras
Countries Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance
Brazil
Bulgaria
Chile
Ecuador
Germany
Greece
Mexico
Poland
Venezuela

2007 Compliance Report[edit]

2007 Report Cover
2007 Report Cover

[8]

Countries Not Compliant
Honduras
Countries Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance
Brazil
Bulgaria
Chile
Colombia
Germany
Greece
Mexico
Poland

2006 Compliance Report[edit]

[9]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Ecuador
Honduras
Mauritius
Venezuela
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Greece
Mexico
Panama
Turkey
Countries of Concern
Hungary
Poland
Romania
Spain
The Bahamas
Enforcement Problems
Germany
Israel
Poland
Sweden
Switzerland

2005 Compliance Report[edit]

[10]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Colombia
Ecuador
Honduras
Mauritius
Panama
Turkey
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Chile
Greece
Mexico
Countries of Concern
Hungary
Poland
Romania
Switzerland
The Bahamas
Enforcement Problems
France
Germany
Greece
Israel
Poland
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

2004 Compliance Report[edit]

[11]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Colombia
Ecuador
Honduras
Mauritius
Mexico
Turkey
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Romania
Switzerland
Countries of Concern
Greece
Hungary
Israel
Panama
Poland
The Bahamas
Enforcement Problems
Germany
Israel
Poland
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

2002 and 2003 Compliance Report[edit]

[12]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Honduras
Mauritius
Mexico
Panama
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Switzerland
Countries of Concern
The Bahamas
Colombia
Germany
Poland
Spain
Enforcement Problems
Germany
Israel
Spain
Switzerland

2001 Compliance Report[edit]

[13]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Honduras
Mauritius
Panama
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Mexico
Countries of Concern
The Bahamas
Colombia
Germany
Poland
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

2000 Compliance Report[edit]

[14]

Noncompliant Countries
Austria
Honduras
Mauritius
Panama
Countries Not Fully Compliant
Germany
Mexico
Sweden
Countries of Concern
Colombia
Poland
Switzerland
Enforcement Problems
Canada
Germany
Israel
Spain
Switzerland

1999 Compliance Report[edit]

Noncompliant Countries[15]
Austria
Honduras
Mauritius
Mexico
Sweden

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hague Abduction Convention text". Hcch.net. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "THE HAGUE CHILD ABDUCTION CONVENTION: DIMINISHING RETURNS AND LITTLE TO CELEBRATE FOR AMERICANS". NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, 33 N.Y.U. J. Int ' l L. & Pol. 125. 2000. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  3. ^ "US State Dept. Compliance Reports". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  4. ^ "2010 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  5. ^ "2010 Hague Abduction Convention Compliance Report". internationalfamilylawfirm.com. 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  6. ^ "2009 Compliance Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  7. ^ "2008 Compliance Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  8. ^ "2007 Compliance Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  9. ^ "2006 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  10. ^ "2005 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  11. ^ "2004 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  12. ^ "2002,2003 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  13. ^ "2001 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  14. ^ "2000 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  15. ^ "1999 Compliance Report". Travel.state.gov. Retrieved 2010-04-20.