Warning of child abduction to sharia law states

 

FORMER MEP Mary Banotti has called on the Government to monitor the number of reported child abduction cases involving sharia law countries which have not signed international conventions on the issue.

Figures published by the Department of Justice last week showed that a record 141 transnational child abduction cases were dealt with by the authorities last year.

The department said 141 cases involving 183 children were received by the Central Authority for Child Abduction in 2008, an increase of 42 cases on 2007 and the highest annual total since the unit was established in 1991.

However, Ms Banotti, who is president of Irish Centre for Parentally Abducted Children, said it was very difficult to retrieve children who were abducted by one parent to a state that had not signed the Hague conventions on child abduction. Cases involving countries governed by sharia law were particularly difficult to resolve.

“I think there should be a record kept of all children removed to sharia law countries,” she said.

Ms Banotti pointed to a case in which an Irish woman, originally from a north African state, was reunited in January with her four children six years after her husband took them back to their country of origin without her consent. Because the African state had not signed the Hague conventions, the woman had no legal avenue to pursue in order to retrieve her children, who were aged between two and seven when they were taken in 2002.

She was eventually reunited with them in January after her husband was arrested by gardaí on his return to Ireland.

Ms Banotti said the latest child abduction figures corroborated her organisation’s view that the problem remained significant. The centre received reports of seven abductions in the past week.

A major shift in trends in recent years was that, whereas women until recently made up the vast majority of those reporting abduction, today at least half of reports came from men.

While the overwhelming majority of transnational abduction cases investigated here once involved the United States and the UK, recent immigration patterns are reflected in the variety of central and eastern European countries that have appeared on the department’s list in recent years.

In 2008, a total of 33 cases related to states that joined the EU since 2004, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania.