Phuket Boy Ricardo Among Rising Number of Abductions
By Chutima Sidasathian,Phuketwan Friday, July 1, 2011
PHUKET: Figures show the number of British children abducted by a parent and taken abroad is increasing, with Thailand a favored destination. Pakistan and India rank first and third in numerical terms, sandwiching Thailand. The Foreign Office said that 161 children had been taken over the past 12 months to countries that are outside an international treaty designed to ensure the return of wrongfully removed minors.
On Phuket, parental abduction is known to be an issue. The most prominent case has been the twice-abducted Ricardo Choosaneh, a nine-year-old first taken by his Thai mother from his father in the Netherlands, then taken from Phuket by his foster mother earlier this year. His mother, Sumetra Choosaneh, told Phuketwan in an interview in Bangkok in March that she planned to go to Europe to regain her boy – but through the courts this time.
Khun Sumetra and her family say that the father has never been a good provider and continues to use possession of the boy as a means to extract money from others and to gain government housing in the Netherlands. Britain’s Foreign Office admitted that true figures on abductions are likely to be much higher because many cases go unreported. AFP reported that although Pakistan, Thailand and India topped the list of nations involved, there were cases in another 94 countries that are outside the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne told the news agency: ”Finding a solution can be especially difficult if a child has been taken to a non-Hague country as there are no international systems in place to help you. This is why prevention is so important.” The Phuket case of young Ricardo has brought international attention, with a television show in the Netherlands encouraging support from viewers for the boy’s father, Michael Roland van Alphen. However, Khun Sumetra and her family maintain that Phuket-born Ricardo, abducted twice in the space of nine months, should never have been snatched on the second occasion by foster mother Kimberley Ching-Yong because the boy’s future is brighter on Phuket.
Only a court, having listened carefully to both sides, can settle the matter with the best interests of the child to the fore. As Sharon Cooke, advice line manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, told AFP: ”The psychological impact on children can be traumatic and for the left-behind parent, the shock and loss are unbearable, particularly if they don’t know where their child is.”
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