International child abduction to Mexico


Mexico is amongst the world’s most popular sources and destinations for international child abduction while also being widely regarded as having one of the least effective systems of protecting and returning internationally abducted children within its borders.

To help protect abducted children Mexico signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1991,[1] and the Inter-American Convention on the International Return of Children

Since adhering to the Hague Abduction Convention, the world’s most recognized and utilized instrument for addressing international child abduction, Mexico has been repeatedly criticized for enjoying the benefit of having its treaty partners protect Mexico’s own internationally abducted children, while being consistently non-compliant in fulfilling its reciprocal obligations to protect and return children abducted to Mexico. To date its procedures for enforcing its treaty obligations are unpredictable and entirely ineffective. The Centre for International Family Law Studies in Cardiff, Wales compared seven jurisdictions, including Mexico. The conclusion was that Mexico was by far the worst offender in its failure to return abducted children.

Merely because a country is a party to the Hague Convention does not mean that it will effectively enforce its treaty obligations. For example, the U.S. State Department has asserted that Mexico is “non-compliant” with the terms of the Convention. U.S State Department Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 2004. Mexico’s noncompliance results from the following problems:

  • Mexico has not enacted any legislation to implement the Hague Convention, which has not been integrated into the Mexican legal system.
  • The Mexican Central Authority has no law enforcement powers and Mexican law enforcement agencies make no serious efforts to locate parentally abducted children.
  • The burden of finding an abducted child in Mexico is left entirely to the left-behind parent. Mexican authorities provide no effective help and if the child cannot be located, nothing happens.
  • There is an apparent lack of understanding of the Convention among the judiciary in Mexico.
  • The Mexican Central Authority does not have adequate resources to perform its functions under the Convention.
  • The “amparo” (a special appeal in Mexico claiming a violation of constitutional rights) is used by taking parents to block Hague proceedings indefinitely.
  • Mexican courts are able to reconsider the facts of a Hague at any stage of the proceeding, which allows proceedings to be prolonged substantially.

Accordingly, custody orders concerning parents with strong ties to Mexico must be drafted so as to minimize the risk that the child will be taken to that country. It would be reckless to permit a Mexican parent who has expressed a desire to move to Mexico, and who has strong family or business ties to Mexico, to take a child into that country for a visit, regardless of the conditions that may be imposed to encourage the parent to bring the child back to this country.

The State Department’s 2004 report establishes that similar concerns exist with respect to Austria, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mauritius, Turkey and Romania and, to a somewhat lesser extent, several other countries.

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