US law plans penalties for refusing to return American children abducted by parents


January 6 , 2014

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

A law that is in the making in the US has the potential to further strain India-America ties that are already hit by a row over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.

India_Abducted_Child

The Senate is set to consider a Bill that seeks to empower the US president to impose tough penalties on any country that refuses to return American children “abducted” by their own parents. The legislation that has already passed the House of Representatives covers cases where one of the parents  takes his or her child away from the US and relocates to a foreign country, sources in the US government said.

India is among the top 10 destinations of “parental abduction of children”. The number of such “abducted” American children in India was 95 at the end of 2012. These cases originate from marital discords in Indian-American families and involve one parent relocating to India with the children to pre-empt legal actions by the other parent in the US.

The provisions in the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Bill could trigger legal battles between India and the US.

Under the proposed law, the US president could take action against India and other countries which either have not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or do not have any agreements with the US for the repatriation of children subjected to global “parental abductions”. The steps the US president could take include limiting security assistance, withdrawal of development assistance and using diplomatic tools to block loans from the World Bank and the IMF, apart from imposing visa restrictions, sources said.

As many as 90 countries including the US, Russia and China are signatories to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It provides for expeditious return of a child abducted internationally by a parent from one member country to another with the interventions of the two governments. Except Sri Lanka, no other South Asian country has signed the Convention.

India’s Ministry of Law and Justice is of the view that if India signs the pact, it would put Indian women married to non-resident Indians or foreign nationals to disadvantage in cases of divorces and legal battles over the custody of children, Indian government sources said. This is also one of the reasons why India has not signed a bilateral agreement with the US for cooperation in such cases, they said.

The Law Commission of India, however, had recommended in 2009 that India should accede to the Hague Convention. New Delhi is currently analyzing the implications of the Bill passed by the House of Representatives, sources said.

 

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Indiana mom could be jailed in Cyprus as she fights for kids


August 2 , 2013

Source: internationalparentalabduction.org

Indiana mom could be jailed in Cyprus as she fights for kids

Marla Theocharides is locked in an ugly international custody dispute

In a desperate attempt to stay close to her two children, Marla Theocharides packed her belongings and moved in April from Northern Indiana to Cyprus, where her ex-husband has kept their kids for more than two years despite US orders from Indiana giving the mother full custody.

Marla Theocharides

On a number of occasions, her attempts to spend time with Katerina, 7, and Marcus, 4, have been thwarted by their father, who has denied visitation and ignored an order from the US court in South Bend, Indiana that grants custody of the children to their mother.

It’s yet another international custody dispute, similar to that of another Hoosier mom who traveled to Greece earlier this year in order to get her son back. That case ended happily for Alissa Zagaris, whose son is now with her in Noblesville.

But for Marla Theocharides, 33, things are not going well. In fact, she is about to go to jail.

A Cyprus court issued an arrest warrant for the Mishawaka native Friday, alleging failure to pay child support — despite the fact she cannot get a job because the financially struggling island country has yet to issue her a work permit.

“I expect to be arrested this week,” Theocharides said in an exclusive interview with The Indianapolis Star. “I am not ­legally allowed to work in ­Cyprus until they issue me a pink slip. I have applied for it but have not received it yet.”

Theocharides is supposed to pay her ex-husband 500 euros a month under a local court’s shared-custody decree that is supposed to guarantee her visitation rights. According to Theo­charides, her ex-husband, Charis, is a business consultant for NCR (National Cash Register) in Nicosia and makes 4,200 euros a month, information she says she got from court documents.

Attempts to reach Charis have been unsuccessful.

Theocharides, on the other hand, is struggling. “I am living on my credit card for food and gas,” she said. “I cannot pay the money back; I have no income.”

For that, she expects to go to jail, though probably not for long.

“I am told they will put me in jail until I can pay,” she said. “When they realize that I cannot pay, they will make payment arrange­ments and release me.”

Theocharides moved to Cyprus because child welfare officials told Cypriot courts that her children need to have a close relationship with their mother. Both children were born in America when the couple were married. She quit her job at a South Bend dentist’s office and moved to ­Cyprus. Since that time, she’s seen her kids only a handful of times.

“They were all very brief (visits), of course,” she said. “My daughter is very brainwashed, so she will not speak to me or have anything to do with me. My son is fine. He plays and laughs with me. He lets me hold him and doesn’t want me to leave when it is time to go.”

Back in Indiana, her parents and sister are deeply concerned about events in Cyprus.

cyeu

“My mom has been taking it pretty hard,” said Raquel Muessig, 32, Granger, Theocharides’ younger sister. “It’s very frustrating because all the doctors there recommended she come, but then nobody helps when she tries to visit them.

“I feel like her ex-husband is just wanting ­revenge and wants her to suffer. She is causing stress in his life, and he does not handle stress well.”

Theocharides notified the U.S. State Department. An official there told The Star that the State Department is aware of “this private legal matter” before the Cypriot courts and is “providing all appropriate assistance and will continue to monitor the case closely.”

Theocharides first reported that her children were taken from her by their father on Jan. 10, 2011.

The couple met in 2001 while in college in Arizona and married in 2004; their kids were born in a South Bend hospital. Theocharides’ husband took the oath as a U.S. citizen in 2009.

In October 2009, the family moved to Cyprus, a move that Theocharides thought would be temporary but her husband considered permanent. In July 2010, she returned to the U.S. with the kids, and in the face of what she said was an increasingly violent husband, she filed for divorce.

Her husband complained to authorities in Cyprus, prompting the U.S. State Department to send Theocharides a letter requesting that she return the children. That was followed by kidnapping charges against her.

In January 2011, on the advice of the State ­Department, Theocharides reluctantly allowed her husband to take the kids back to Cyprus. Since then, St. Joseph Circuit Court in South Bend has tried to intervene, retaining its original jurisdiction in the divorce proceedings.

In September 2011, ­despite the absence of her husband and his attorney, the court finalized the ­divorce and awarded custody to Theocharides.

Since that time, she has been back and forth to ­Cyprus for visitation ­attempts that often proved fruitless and on at least one occasion re­sulted in her arrest and a short stay in jail.

Late last year, the welfare department and a child psychologist in ­Cyprus reported to the courts that the children were not doing well — they live with their grandmother and are cared for by unrelated nanny — and they recommended that Theocharides go to ­Cyprus for an extended stay to re-establish her ­relationship with them.

Alissa Zagaris, who endured a similar struggle with an ex-husband in Greece, said this case is more difficult than hers.

“Marla’s case is so much more complicated than mine, but the basic facts are the same,” Zagaris said Monday. “Hoosier kids stuck in a foreign land against all laws and treaties.

“I hate the fact Marla has put her own safety and freedom at risk by moving to Cyprus, but I understand why she has. Marla is my hero and 1,000 times braver than I.”

In Cyprus, Marla Theocharides says she is becoming very concerned about her own safety.

“I have been assaulted, jailed, followed and har­assed,” she said. “Anything can happen at any moment over here. My ex and his family are always planning something. I am even scared to go on the visits with my kids because I don’t want to get arrested in front of the children.”

But in a recent Facebook post, she showed ­resolve to stick it out until the end.

“He threatened me and told me that he has people after me and I will never last in Cyprus. WATCH ME. I will die for my kids. I am not afraid of him anymore.”

 

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Former NBA Star ALLEN IVERSON Ex-Wife Claims HE STOLE OUR KIDS


June 17 , 2013

Source: tmz.com

Former NBA star Allen Iverson has abducted his own children … so says his ex-wife, and now she’s begging the court to force Allen to give them back.

0613-allen-iverson-tawanna-ap-3

Tawanna Iverson just filed legal docs, claiming Allen recently asked for permission to take their five kids on a short vacation to Charlotte, NC from May 22nd-May 26th (and Tawanna agreed) but when May 26th rolled around, the children hadn’t been returned.

The kids range in age from 3 to 16 years old.

In the docs, Tawanna says she tried to set up an exchange on June 4th at a neutral location — a nearby Target store — but A.I. never showed up.

Tawanna — who has sole legal and primary physical custody of their children — now believes Allen never took their kids to Charlotte at all … and is currently keeping them at a Sheraton hotel in Georgia.

Tawanna claims she’s especially concerned because Allen’s an alcoholic who drinks around their kids. 

She now wants the court to force him to return the kids … and punish him as well, even suggesting the judge throw his ass in jail.

It’s not the first time she’s tried to get Iverson locked up … she had previously begged the court to send him to the pokey for allegedly not paying more than $40,000 in child support.

Attempts to reach Allen were unsuccessful.

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U.S / Barbados – Mother who kidnapped children gets 18 months


January 19, 2013

Source: Buffalo News

Jacqueline Bontzolakes says an abusive relationship forced her to gather up her two kids, flee her Town of Tonawanda home and escape to faraway Barbados.

map of caribbean

A federal court jury didn’t buy her story, however, and instead found her guilty in one of Buffalo’s first cases of international parental kidnapping.

Today, a judge sentenced Bontzolakes to 18 months in prison, well below what he could have given her.

“I ended up doing something I regret in order to protect my daughter,” she told U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in a tearful plea for leniency.

Bontzolakes never denied taking her kids away from their fathers and leaving the country, but insisted there were sound reasons for what she did – the fear that her oldest daughter also was being abused.

Federal prosecutors tell a far different story of why Bontzolakes kidnapped her children. They claim it was because she had lost custody of the girl.

“I would ask the court not to forget who the real victims are here, the two children she kidnapped,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly told Wilson, a visiting judge from Arkansas.

With nearly two dozen of Bontzolakes’ family, friends and supporters looking on, Wilson stopped well short of the three-year sentence he could have given her under federal sentencing guidelines.

The government’s case against Bontzolakes offers a glimpse into international parental kidnapping, which until this year was rare, if not unheard of, in Buffalo federal court.

It has been a long-standing problem elsewhere, however, an issue so big that a Hague Convention in 1980 resulted in an international treaty governing how countries deal with these types of kidnappings.

 

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Ansar Al-Islam Leader Mullah Krekar jailed for five years in Norway


Source: BBC

Mullah Krekar, the Kurdish founder of radical Islamic group Ansar al-Islam, has been sentenced to five years in jail in Norway for making death threats against officials and others.

Mullah Krekar, 55, came to Norway as a refugee in 1991.

Krekar, who says he is no longer involved with Ansar al-Islam, said in court he would appeal the ruling.

Ansar al-Islam, which is based in northern Iraq, is regarded by the UN and US as a terrorist organisation.

Mullah Krekar was found guilty of threatening the life of Erna Solberg, an ex-minister who signed his expulsion order in 2003 because he was considered a threat to national security.

He was also found guilty of threatening three other Kurds living in Norway who had burnt pages of the Koran or insulted it in another way.

Mullah Krekar – born Najm Faraj Ahmad – has lived in suburban eastern Oslo with his family since 1991 when he was granted refugee status in Norway.

From this base, he founded Ansar al-Islam, which Washington blames for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. In 2006, the UN added the cleric to a list of people believed to have links with al-Qaeda.

The Kurdish cleric says he stepped down as leader of Ansar al-Islam in 2002 and denies any links with al-Qaeda.

He remains in Norway despite the deportation order against him because of the security situation in Iraq.

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Courts should punish parental abduction


Source: TheGlobeAndMail

The abduction of children by their mother or father is a serious crime deserving of serious consequences, and of a strong denunciation by the courts.

But the courts do not usually like to send first offenders to jail, especially when they are “otherwise of good character” and not a danger to reoffend. Many abducting parents receive conditional discharges. It is difficult to see why being a first-time offender should reduce a sentence, when the offence goes on for months or years.

That is what happened in September in R. v. Melville, an Ontario case involving a five-year-old taken by his mother from Toronto to Florida for 12 years, in violation of a court order. The judge in the abduction case did not believe there were extenuating circumstances of abuse. “In a system that is meant to focus on the best interests of the child, the child can be reduced to a weapon used by warring parents to bludgeon each other,” wrote Mr. Justice Todd Ducharme of the Ontario Superior Court, stressing the seriousness of the crime. But the Crown asked only for six months in prison, and that is what Judge Ducharme gave the mother.

It is also what happened in November in R. v. Neundorf, also in Ontario, in which a mother and her new husband took her two sons, in violation of a court order, to Singapore, without advising the boys’ father. It was seven months before she returned. In that case, the trial judge sentenced her to a year under house arrest; being a first offender worked in the mother’s favour. After she had served that term, the Court of Appeal granted her an absolute discharge, clearing her of a criminal record. Perhaps that was fair in the circumstances, but it is difficult to understand part of that court’s rationale – that the mother had experienced the hardship of not being able to see her boys for more than a year, as a result of her arrest and changes to the custody terms. Wasn’t that her fault?

In a B.C. case from 2008, R. v. Gill, a mother received a conditional discharge after fleeing an abusive situation and taking her two children home to India – for 10 years. Again, perhaps fair in the circumstances; but the message of deterrence, and of the need to respect court processes, was lost.

Each parental abduction turns on its facts, of course, and it would be foolish to urge that all abductors be tossed in jail, regardless of the circumstances. The maximum sentence is 10 years in jail, reflecting Parliament’s view of the seriousness of parental abduction. Parental abduction is a form of child abuse, and the courts should treat it that way.

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Brat Camps and Boot Camps for troubled teens


Source: Boot camps
Brat Camps
    Whoever would’ve guessed that watching a bunch of unruly, disrespectful “brats” would be considered entertainment?! From the UK to the United States, viewers are glued to their televisions, watching the adventures, battles and emotional breakdowns of a group of teens that need a quick dose of reality in the new TV series “Brat Camps”.
    Brat camps are very similar to wilderness programs and some of them closely resemble the juvenile boot camps that have grown in popularity. Brat camps are considered by many to be good options for teens that have early signs of problems but have not become firmly attatched to negative influences and bad behavior. However, teens that have developed bad habits over long period of time would benefit more from long-term options that range from 12-18 months. Long-term options have the ability to replace bad habits with positive, constructive habits that will benefit the teen throughout their lives.
 Boot Camp Overview

Started as an alternative to jail for juvenile adolescents, there are serveral types of teen boot camps from state run to privately run where the teen will be mentally and physically challenged. These facilities can be a starting place for getting your teen help. In both the state and private environment the camps goal is to scare kids straight generally only giving a good short-term solution. Parents often seek out boot camps with the assumption that a “wake up call” is all that is needed for their troubled teen.

Boot Camps are often short-term, however, long-term boot camps have increased in popularity for their ability to help defiant adolescents improve their behavior at home and school. They are modeled after military-style, military exercises, and intense physical training focusing on reality, respect and responsibility. Many teens lack these qualities, yet they desperately need them in order to successfully transition into adulthood. This experience can help teens replace destructive attitudes and behaviors with new perspectives and direction in their lives. The theology behind a short-term camp being that a “quick reality check” will turn a child around who has been acting out. These boot camp style programs are usually ineffective for teens that have developed bad habits over a long period of time and are in need of long term change.
What is it like to be in a Teen Boot Camp?
A true teen boot camp will include uniforms, marching in formation as well as a “yes sir” and “no sir” mentality.  They will include a very structured environment that includes the trainers getting right in the face of the cadet. Barracks will be similar to those in the U.S. Military’s “basic training” program and will be authentic in areas including bunk beds, foot lockers and a very strict, no holes barred system of inspections that must be completed without error if the teen is to survive the ordeal, even for a short period of time.  Whether a child is able to handle this type of environment is actually a question that must be considered before a parent puts a struggling teen in the midst of these intense drill instructors and within the environment that does not permit any outside contact for a prescribed period of time. Parents should consider more than just if the cadet can survive. They should consider whether juvenile boot camps are the right choice for a troubled teen. It is clear that teens with behavioral problems that are beyond the scope of these environments should not be considered for teen boot camps.

Do Boot Camps Work?

    These type of programs are designed as a quick fix and may help a struggling teen with respect, obedience and appreciation. However, they are not a good long term option for teens that need help. Recidivism rates suggest that they are not a good solution for long term change.

Health and Safety Issues
    Health and Safety of your teen should be considered when choosing a juvenile boot camp. Boot camps have come under fire recently with health and safety issues. Some may attempt to push a child too much or may be to extreme with their in your face approach. Many choose to use too much military drill instructor techniques. While the drill sergeant may have success with military basic training cadets who have voluntarily gone to boot camp. Ex-drill sergeants may be ineffective with a struggling teen that is not as motivated as some one enrolled into the military.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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