International Child Abduction

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.

The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.

As of May 2018, 98 states are party to the convention. In 2017, Tunisia and Jamaica acceded to the convention.

Ecuador’s Noncompliance – International Child Abduction – U.S. July 2018 Action Report

The Convention has been in force between the United States and Ecuador since 1992. In 2017, Ecuador demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, Ecuador’s judicial branch and law enforcement authorities regularly failed to implement and comply with the provisions of the Convention. As a result of this failure, 13 percent (one case involving one child) of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention remained unresolved for more than 12 months. More specifically, this case has been unresolved for four years and 11 months. Ecuador has been cited for noncompliance since 2015. The Ecuadorian Central Authority moved from the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion to the Ministry of Justice in June 2017, and a new director was appointed in mid-November 2017.

Report of Actions Taken: 

The Department has reinforced efforts urging Ecuador to improve its Convention implementation. In January 2018, the USCA increased the frequency of digital video conferences with the Ecuadorian Central Authority, Ecuadorian law enforcement officials, and the Public Defender’s Office to monthly meetings. During these conferences, participants discussed case updates and strategies on improving implementation of the Convention in Ecuador. Such conferences also increased understanding among the different offices involved in abduction cases in Ecuador and therefore improved communication, coordination, and cooperation.

The Department also plans to invite Ecuadorian officials to participate in a new International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) tentatively scheduled for summer 2018. The IVLP will specifically address the judicial components of processing and resolving Convention abduction cases.

In June 2018, U.S. Embassy Quito delivered a demarche to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Relations, giving official notice that the Department cited Ecuador for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance.

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