::International Child Abductions in Canada

Child abductions are difficult and complex when they occur within Canada. When they involve other countries, they are even more so. Provincial/territorial and federal governments cooperate closely in assisting parents affected by such abductions. These cases involve Canadian children who have been wrongfully removed from Canada, or who have been prevented from returning home by one of their parents. There are hundreds of active cases.

Each international child abduction is unique. It is important, therefore, that you, the parent left behind, work closely with officials to improve the chances that you can be reunited with your child. You must be directly involved in the search and the anticipated return of your child. This is a bewildering and often prolonged experience. The objective of this manual, therefore, is to help you understand the process and to direct you to appropriate sources of help.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction—known as the Hague Convention—is the main international treaty that can assist parents whose children have been abducted to another country. As of January 2012, approximately 87 countries have adopted the Convention, including Canada. It offers considerable assistance in the case of children abducted to signatory countries, and over 400 Canadian children have been returned under its arrangements.

Canadian cases involving countries that are parties to the Hague Convention are managed through special offices in each of the provincial and territorial departments of the Attorney General or of Justice. These offices are called “central authorities.” Details on the use of the Convention, as well as a list of participating countries, are contained in the section The Hague Convention. Addresses for the Canadian central authorities are given in the Directory of Assistance.

If you have any questions, please contact Consular Services of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2; tel.: 1-800-387-3124 or 1-800-267-6788 (in Canada) or 613-996-8885; fax: 613-995-9221 or 613-996-5358. This manual, as well as other useful information, can also be found on the Consular Services website.

Every effort has been made to provide accurate and current information in this manual. However, the manual should be used only as a general guide. Individuals facing a potential or actual abduction situation should seek advice and guidance from the appropriate authorities. Nothing in this manual should be construed as legal advice; nor is it intended to replace the advice of your lawyer or other authorities.

Vulnerability

Your child is most vulnerable to abduction when your relationship with the other parent is broken or troubled. The vulnerability is magnified if the other parent has close family in, or other ties, with another country.

This vulnerability may be increased in situations where permission is granted for a child to visit or travel to another country. In many cases, abduction or custody issues arise when the child is prevented from returning to Canada. These cases may not be considered as abductions under the criminal laws of other countries concerned or of Canada. Rather, they may give rise to custody or wrongful retention issues. You should bear these factors in mind when you are contemplating travel for either yourself or your child.

In some countries, children must obtain the permission of their father and women must obtain the permission of their husbands in order to travel. If you are planning to visit another country where you are unfamiliar with the laws and customs as they relate to children and women, you should acquire a thorough knowledge of them before making final arrangements for the trip. You can begin by calling Consular Services in Ottawa.

As well, if you are separated or divorced, or if there is a court order with respect to custodial arrangements for your child, you should discuss your planned visit with a Canadian lawyer experienced in such matters. In some instances, it might also be necessary to discuss your situation with a lawyer in the country you will be visiting. Consular officials can provide you with a list of lawyers in foreign countries who may be able to assist.

If at any time you believe your child may be in danger of being abducted, you should discuss the matter with your local police, your lawyer, Consular Services and other organizations that may be able to provide you with assistance and advice. Remember that it is easier to prevent an abduction than it is to recover a child after an abduction has taken place. Do not ignore your fears. Act upon them and seek assistance.

Precautions and Preparations

If you have any reason to believe that your child could be abducted to or retained in another country against your wishes, you should ensure that you have detailed information about your child (including travel documents), as well as about the other parent and his or her family, friends and business associates both in Canada and in other countries. You should take colour photographs of your child every six months. A checklist of such information is given in the section Information and Document Checklist. Further, you should teach your child how to use the telephone and practise how to make long-distance collect calls. Special attention should be given to teaching a child how to make collect calls from a pay phone.

There is often a revenge motive involved in child abductions, and abducting parents may try to convince their children that the other parent no longer wants or loves them. Therefore, it is important for you to impress upon your child that you do indeed love him or her, and that you would in no circumstances want your child to leave you.

Custody

The laws of Canadian provinces and territories generally provide for both parents to have equal legal custody of a child, as long as there is no custody order and the child is living with them. This is the law in many other countries as well. If you are considering separation or divorce, if you are already separated or divorced, or if you were never legally married to the other parent, you should discuss custodial arrangements with your lawyer. Only your lawyer can provide you with advice appropriate to your specific circumstances.

A well-written custody order is important when dealing with parental child abductions, especially if the other parent is a landed immigrant or a Canadian citizen with ties to, or citizenship of, another country. Even if your Canadian custody order would not be officially recognized in the country to which your child could be abducted, it will serve as a formal statement of your custodial rights in subsequent discussions and proceedings. Your lawyer can advise you on what is appropriate for your situation. The custody order might include some or all of the following:

•sole or joint custody;

•access rights;

•court-ordered supervised access;

•prohibition on travel without the permission of both parents or the court, and surrender of all travel documentation for a child by the non-custodial parent;

•deposit of passport/travel documents issued in the name of the child with the court;

•if travel is permitted to a country that is a party to the Hague Convention, a statement whereby both parents agree that the terms of the Convention and/or of the Canadian Criminal Act would apply in the event of an abduction or wrongful retention; and

•if one of the parents does not have Canadian citizenship or has dual citizenship, provisions for a bond to be posted in the event of the child travelling to another country, which would be forfeited to the other parent in case of abduction or wrongful retention.

You should obtain several certified copies of the custody order. A copy should be given to your child’s school and other authorities who may be acting in loco parentis. Further, the school should be advised as to who has authority to collect or take charge of your child.

Canadian Passports

Canadian government regulations permit the issuance of a passport to a child under 16 years of age if the applicant is the parent, the custodial parent or the legal guardian. Effective December 11, 2001, Canadian children must have their own passport. The practice of adding a child’s name to a parent’s passport is no longer permitted. If parents are separated or divorced, a child will not be issued with a passport unless the application is supported by evidence that the issuance of the passport is not contrary to the terms of a custody order or a separation agreement.

If you fear the abduction of your child, you may notify any passport issuing office in Canada (or the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate if you are abroad) to have your child’s name placed on Passport Canada’s System Lookout List, which puts officials on alert if they recieve a passport application in your child’s name. Before your child’s name is included on this list, you will be asked to provide the names and birth dates of both parents and the child, as well as copies of any custody-related documents.

The address for the central Passport Canada office is given in the section Directory of Assistance. There are also 29 regional Passport Canada offices across Canada. Consult the federal government section of your telephone directory for the one nearest you.

Dual Nationality

Many international child abductions involve parents and children who have citizenship of other countries in addition to Canada. Dual nationality is permissible under Canadian law. The fact that the abducting parent may carry another passport could create additional difficulty for you and Canadian authorities in preventing an abduction. The Government of Canada cannot prevent diplomatic or consular offices of other countries in Canada or elsewhere from providing passport services to Canadian children who are also citizens of those countries.

You or your lawyer can request that a foreign diplomatic or consular office not provide passport services for your child. To do so, you should provide the foreign diplomatic or consular office with a written request, along with a certified copy of any court orders dealing with custody of or foreign travel by your child. In the letter you can inform the foreign government office that you have also sent a copy of your request to Consular Services. If your child has only Canadian citizenship, you can ask the foreign government office not to issue a visa (if one is required for entry) in the child’s Canadian passport. There is no requirement for other countries to comply with such requests, but many countries do so voluntarily in the interest of preventing international child abductions.

Search and Recovery

General Advice

The discovery that one’s child is missing is a traumatic experience. It is important that you stay calm and seek assistance from family, friends and appropriate professionals. Report your child’s disappearance to the police and to Consular Services, and consult with your lawyer.

A determined abducting parent can make the search for and recovery of a missing child an extremely complex process. It is very difficult even when the abductor is still in Canada. When the abductor leaves Canada, the process becomes far more complicated. Search and recovery efforts can be prolonged and are often unsuccessful. Therefore, you should not have unrealistic expectations of results, or expect results in a matter of days or, in some instances, months. You should be well organized in this process, establishing reasonable goals and expectations. These may include:

•seeking to obtain early confirmation of where your child is located;

•seeking to obtain early confirmation of the well-being of your child;

•becoming informed about your legal situation both in Canada and in the country where your child is located;

•understanding the limitations and constraints that may affect the return of your child to Canada;

•learning about the legal process; and

•understanding the potential financial implications for you and other members of your family in the search and recovery process.

It is crucial that you be reachable at all times, in case someone tries to communicate with you about your missing child.

If you do not have a custody order, consult with your lawyer on the need for one. In cases where the Hague Convention applies, a custody order “after the fact” may not be necessary. However, for abductions to countries not party to the Hague Convention, a Canadian custody order is important.

One of the most important things you can do in the early stages of an international child abduction is to establish friendly contact with the relatives and friends of the other parent, both in Canada and abroad. The fastest and most effective way to resolve international child abductions is for the abducting parent to return the child to Canada voluntarily. While there may be good reasons for you to believe that this approach won’t work, it is important that the effort be made. The section Other Actions contains more information on this.

You may want to contact a local or national non-governmental organization that provides advice and assistance to parents whose children have been abducted. Such organizations can be of considerable help to you and can put you in touch with other parents who have gone or are going through the same turmoil. A list of some of these organizations is given in the section Directory of Assistance.

However, the first and most important element is to determine exactly where your child is. Recovery actions cannot be taken until your child’s location is known. The following agencies can assist you in finding and recovering your child.

The Local Police

As soon as you suspect that your child has been abducted, contact your local police department immediately. The sooner the police network can begin to search and investigate, the better.

When you contact the local police, give them a copy of any custody order as well as photographs and descriptions of your child and the abducting parent. You should also provide any other information that may lead to the quick discovery of the location of your child. A checklist of such information is provided in the section Information and Document Checklist.

Ask the local police to enter the information in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) computer system, so that all police forces in Canada will have access to it. Also request that the information be entered in the United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system.

If you believe that your child has been or may be taken out of the country, request that the local police immediately contact the National Missing Children Services of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Also contact Consular Services.

Your local police may initiate some of the following, or seek your assistance in doing so:

•review with you and other authorities whether criminal charges should be laid against the abducting parent;

•notify your child’s school authorities of the abduction, and ask that they advise you or your lawyer in the event that there is a request for school records; you may need to provide the school authorities with a certified copy of your custody order;

•review credit cards that the abducting parent may have and request records of purchases;

•obtain copies of records of long-distance calls that the abducting parent may have made prior to the abduction;

•suggest to the RCMP or local police the publication of an Interpol circular;

•if your child has chronic medical problems or is on regular medication, contact the physician and/or hospital that treated your child and ask for their cooperation should there be a request for information concerning your child; here, too, you may need to provide a certified copy of your custody order; and

•if there are common credit cards or joint bank accounts, check your liability for transactions made by the abducting parent and take appropriate action.

The Canadian Government’s “Our Missing Children” Program

This program involves four federal government departments: the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Department of Justice. The program’s objective is to locate and return missing and abducted children.

Following a request from the local police, customs officers can immediately have a border alert distributed to the member countries of the International Customs Union. The RCMP component, the National Missing Children Services, is associated with the global police network Interpol, through which it will assist any Canadian police agency in coordinating investigations abroad.

Among the services offered through the RCMP’s National Missing Children Services is the Travel Reunification Program, which is designed to help parents or guardians who cannot afford to pay the cost of having an abducted child returned to Canada. To qualify for the travel assistance offered by the program, the following guidelines must be met:

•The request for assistance must come from the investigating police department, the provincial/territorial central authority or Consular Services.

•The requesting agency is responsible for assessing the financial status of the family and determining if free transportation and accommodation should be provided.

•The service is available only to return a child abducted by a parent.

•A parent or guardian will not be sent overseas unless all legal steps have been taken for the return of the child to Canada and the local authorities are cooperating in the return.

The Media

Publicity can be both helpful and detrimental in international child abductions. It is important, therefore, that you discuss the matter of publicity with your local police and/or your lawyer. You should discuss the matter with Consular Services as well. In some countries, publicity could affect the willingness or ability of local authorities to assist in the return of your child. It may also cause the abducting parent to go into hiding and, in so doing, create further stress and danger for your child.

Search Agencies

A number of private organizations will carry out search activities on your behalf for a fee and/or expenses. You should obtain advice and guidance from professionals, including the local police and non-governmental organizations (see the section Directory of Assistance for addresses), before engaging such agencies to act on your behalf. If you do decide to engage such an organization, it is important to have your lawyer involved in any negotiations to protect your financial interests and to ensure that the proposed activities do not further complicate the search for and recovery of your child.

The Hague Convention

More than 30 years ago, the international community recognized the need for cooperation between countries to find a means to prevent and resolve cases of parental international child abductions. In 1976, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an international organization based in the Netherlands, accepted a Canadian proposal to alleviate some of these problems. Canada, along with some 30 other countries, actively participated in the negotiations that led to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Canada was the second country to ratify the Convention, which came into force on December 1, 1983. Canadian involvement in the negotiation and ratification process was coordinated closely with provincial and territorial governments. The Convention applies throughout Canada and in approximately 87 other countries.

Objectives

The objectives of the Hague Convention are:

•to secure the prompt return of a child wrongfully removed to or retained in any contracting state, to the environment from which the child was removed; and

•to ensure that the rights of custody and of access under the law of one contracting state are effectively respected in other contracting states.

Requirements

The Convention can be of help to you if the following requirements are met:

•Your child was habitually resident in Canada immediately prior to the removal or retention.

•The wrongful removal was in breach of rights of custody or rights of

access or retention within the meaning of the Hague Convention.

•At the time of the abduction or retention, the Convention applied between Canada and the country to which your child has been taken and/or, in some cases, is travelling through.

•Your child is under 16 years of age.

Application for the Return of a Child

1. What to Do First

If your child has been abducted to or is being retained in a country other than Canada and you are aware of the location, you should contact the office of your provincial or territorial Attorney General and/or Minister of Justice. These departments have special sections designated as the central authority for your province or territory, which are responsible for the administration of the Hague Convention. The federal Department of Justice is also a central authority and provides assistance to the provinces and territories. A list of all the Canadian central authorities is contained in the section Directory of Assistance. The central authority can provide you with information on the countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention, and can advise you on how to proceed with an application.

As of January 2012, the Convention applied between Canada and the following countries:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, China (Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions only), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark (except the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France (for the whole of the French Republic), Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in UN and other international bodies), Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Bermuda), the United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

In some instances, the Convention may not apply to dependent territories of these countries. It is, therefore, important to verify whether the Convention will apply to your situation. The number of countries to which the Convention applies continues to increase. The website for the Hague Convention provides an up-to-date listing.

The relevant central authorities in Canada and in the foreign country will do some or all of the following to assist you:

•provide you with information on how to proceed with an application under the Hague Convention;

•provide up-to-date information on the participating countries;

•seek to discover the whereabouts of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained;

•prevent further harm to such a child by taking provisional measures;

•secure the voluntary return of the child; and

•provide or facilitate the provision of legal aid and advice, including the participation of legal counsel and advisors.

2. How to Apply

Your provincial/territorial central authority will provide you with a copy of the Convention-approved application form and other information about issues under the Convention. The application will require the following:

•information on your identity, the identity and date of birth of the child and the identity of the person alleged to have removed or retained the child;

•all available information concerning the whereabouts of the child and the identity of the person with whom the child is presumed to be;

•a statement of the grounds proving your right to have the child returned; you must prove the wrongful removal or retention of the child and your custody rights that existed at the time of the wrongful removal or retention;

•supporting documents, such as a certified copy of the judgement or agreement granting you custody or access rights, where such a document is applicable; and

•a statement giving the foreign central authority the right to act on your behalf.

In addition to providing supporting documents in the official language of your choice (English or French), you may be required to provide translations in the official language of the country concerned.

3. Procedure in a Foreign Country

The Canadian central authority will transmit your application to the central authority of the country concerned. In turn, the foreign central authority will submit your application to its appropriate judicial authority. If the return of your child cannot be arranged voluntarily, a court hearing may take place. At the hearing, your rights may be represented by a lawyer acting on behalf of the foreign central authority or by someone you have engaged privately. The other parent can have legal representation at the hearing and can contest your application.

If the conditions contained in the Hague Convention are met, and none of the exceptions apply, the decision should be to order the return of the child. However, any decision can be appealed to higher courts in accordance with the judicial process of the country concerned, or there could be delays by the police in implementing a court decision in your favour. The Hague Convention calls for fast action in recovering a child, first seeking the voluntary return of the child by the abducting parent. If this fails and legal procedures are initiated, it can take many weeks before a decision is finalized. If a decision is not reached within six weeks of the date on the application, the Canadian central authority concerned may request a statement explaining the delay. The final disposition can take considerable time, depending on the nature of the legal proceedings involved, including appeals.

The Hague Convention contains a number of exceptions that could affect the decision by the court in the foreign country. Some of the main ones are:

•The other parent proves that you were not exercising custody rights when the child was abducted/retained, or that you consented to the child’s removal or later acquiesced to it.

•There is a grave risk that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm or would otherwise be placed in an intolerable situation if he or she were returned.

•The child objects to being returned and is old enough and mature enough to have his or her views taken into account.

If the central authority in the country that received your Hague Convention application has reason to believe that the child has been taken to yet another country, it may cease the proceedings or dismiss the application and transfer it to the country concerned.

Costs

Central authorities do not impose charges for the application. There could be costs associated with court proceedings and legal counsel. Some countries will provide legal services free of charge; in other countries you may be entitled to legal aid; and in others it may be necessary for you to engage your own lawyer.

It is not essential that you travel to the country handling your Hague Convention application, but this may be desirable in some cases. If your application is successful, it would simplify matters if you, as the custodial parent, could be present to accompany the child on his or her return to Canada. You will be responsible for the travel costs involved in having your child returned to Canada. Refer to the section Search and Recovery for details on the RCMP’s Travel Reunification Program, which may be able to provide assistance in having the child returned to Canada.

Assistance in the Exercise of Access Rights

If you are having difficulties in exercising your access rights, your provincial/territorial central authority can also process an application under the Hague Convention for organizing or securing the effective exercise of those rights. In so doing, the central authorities are promoting a second goal of the Convention, which is to promote the peaceful enjoyment of access rights. You should contact your provincial/territorial central authority if you are experiencing such difficulties.

Other Actions

In the event that your child has been abducted to a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention, it is possible for you to take other actions both in Canada and abroad that could lead to the return of your child. (Some of these actions may also be relevant if the abduction has been to a Hague Convention country.) In Canada, the civil justice system can be used to reinforce your custody rights and, if appropriate, the criminal justice system can be used to initiate criminal action against the abductor. It may be possible to take similar actions in the other country. As every situation is unique, it is important for you to seek legal and other professional advice and guidance before taking specific action.

Using the Civil Justice System

Once you have obtained a custody order from the appropriate Canadian court, the next step is to decide whether you wish to use the justice system in the country to which your child has been abducted.

Consular Services can provide you with general information on the legal system of that country, customs and practices of that country related to parental rights, and the experience of other people in seeking to use that country’s justice system to have an abducted child returned.

Consular officers in Ottawa and overseas can provide advice and guidance on the laws of a foreign country or on what might be the most appropriate action to take. However, for authoritative information, you will need to retain a lawyer in that country who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with custody cases involving foreigners. Canadian officials in Ottawa and at Canadian government offices abroad can provide you with a list of lawyers who speak English or French, who may be experienced in parental child abduction or family law and who may have represented Canadians in circumstances similar to yours. However, as this lawyer will be working for you, it is most important that you, and only you, make the selection. If you decide to undertake legal action in the other country, it may be necessary for you to be there in person at some stage of the proceedings.

Lawyers’ fees vary widely from country to country and could be in excess of what would be paid in Canada. Therefore, you should be very direct when making arrangements for legal representation in another country: ensure that the arrangements are in writing and that you fully understand what the lawyer will and will not do, when it will be done and at what cost. If necessary, Canadian consular officials can maintain contact with your lawyer to obtain status reports and to verify that your rights, as provided for by the laws of that country, are respected.

Your lawyer will advise you on the information and documentation that will be required in order to represent you within that country’s justice system. In addition to providing a certified copy of your custody order, it may be necessary to supply copies of your marriage and/or separation or divorce documents, along with copies of the relevant provincial/territorial and federal laws relating to custody and child abductions. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa can authenticate these documents before they are sent. For information, contact the Authentication and Service of Documents Section, tel.: 613-995-0119; fax: 613-944-7078. Your Canadian lawyer can assist you in gathering this material and having it delivered to your lawyer in the foreign country.

A custody order issued by a Canadian court has no automatic binding legal force beyond the borders of Canada. Nevertheless, there may be procedures and laws in place in the foreign country to have that order recognized and enforced there. In addition, such an order could be persuasive in support of any legal action that you undertake. Courts in other countries, like those in Canada, must decide child custody cases on the basis of their own domestic laws. This may give an advantage to the person who has abducted your child, if the abduction is to the country of his or her other nationality or origin. You could also be disadvantaged if the country has a legal tradition in deciding custody cases on the basis of gender and/or religious belief. If custody is given to the abducting parent in another country, you should make every effort to have the court specify your access rights. Some countries, even if they award custody to you or provide for access for you, will not permit the child to leave without the consent of the other parent.

Your chances of having your Canadian custody order recognized and enforced in another country are subject to all these factors and conditions. While it may appear that the deck is stacked against you, it is important to accept that recourse to the courts of another country may be the only hope for the safe return of your child. Each country is unique, and it is up to you to decide whether to proceed with legal action.

Using the Criminal Justice System

Parental abduction is a criminal offence under sections 281, 282 and 283 of the Canadian Criminal Code. In many situations, the criminal justice system can prove to be a very useful instrument in locating and recovering a child, especially when the person suspected of perpetrating the abduction has not yet left Canadian soil.

Since the administration of criminal justice is a provincial/territorial responsibility, criminal justice may be administered in a slightly different way from one province/territory to another. Thus, in the abduction of children, some provinces/territories require authorization from the Crown Attorney before proceedings can be set in motion, while in others proceedings can be initiated by the police themselves.

Use of the Criminal Code makes it easier for the police to search for and locate a child. An arrest warrant is generally issued, often improving cooperation among police forces both nationally and internationally. If necessary, an extradition request may be made if there is an extradition treaty with the country in which the alleged abductor is located.

Extradition

Extradition may be worth considering in some cases of international abduction, but may be of no value in others. There is no guarantee that the child will be returned by foreign authorities even if they should permit the extradition of the alleged abductor. When threatened with extradition, some abducting parents have hidden the child or have gone into hiding themselves with the child.

In addition, not all countries regard child abduction by one of the parents as a criminal act. Consular Services can provide information on the criminal justice system in the country in question, and on whether it is likely to cooperate in parental child abduction cases.

Other reasons why extradition is not frequently used in connection with parental child abductions include:

Very few extradition treaties between Canada and other countries include parental child abduction or custodial interference as extraditable offences. In recent treaties, efforts have been made to include the concept of “dual criminality” as the basis for extradition. However, this requires that parental child abduction be considered a crime in both the countries that have signed the treaty.

•Many civil law countries – in contrast with common law countries such as Canada (with the exception of the province of Quebec), Australia , the United States and the United Kingdom – will not extradite their own nationals. Nearly all the countries of Latin America and Europe are civil law countries. Experience has shown that foreign governments are often unwilling to extradite anyone for parental child abduction.

While it is important to report the abduction of your child to the police as soon as possible, your complaint will not necessarily result in child abduction charges. Whether at the level of the police, the Crown Attorney’s office or the federal Department of Justice, which is responsible for extradition questions, such decisions are made in accordance with the particular circumstances of each situation and the possible repercussions on the return of the child. Protection of the child is the primary objective.

For the police and the Crown Attorney to do the optimum job in dealing with your complaint, it is essential that you provide all the information available to you at the time of the complaint and any new information that subsequently arises. Based on this information, the best possible decisions can be made in the interests of you and your child.

Communication and Compromise

As the foregoing information illustrates, legal approaches to dealing with international child abductions can be prolonged and expensive and are often inconclusive. Before pursuing legal solutions, you should carefully consider and explore alternative approaches, such as negotiation with the abducting parent. In some cases, it may be possible to have relatives or friends of the abductor assist you in establishing contact and help to promote a compromise. As well, community or religious leaders may be willing to intervene on your behalf.

Such actions might not produce immediate results but could reduce tensions, promote the welfare of your child and increase the chances of your being able to visit the child and participate in some way in decisions affecting his or her well-being. Sometimes, compromise and reconciliation will be the only solution

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