Ignacio Goicoechea, representative for the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Permanent Bureau of Hague Conference of Private International Law, explains on Tuesday how Jamaica being party to the Hague convention will protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international borders. (Photo: Bryan Cummings)
CITIZENS are being urged to make use of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which Jamaica became party to on May 1.
The call was made by Ignacio Goicoechea, a representative for the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Permanent Bureau of Hague Conference of Private International Law, during a round table interview with the Jamaica Observeron Tuesday.
“It is important to raise the awareness of the existence of this tool so people know they have a central authority they can address if they are under a child abduction situation, because time is of the essence in these cases,” he said, adding that instead of going the traditional route of the police and court, immediate communication with the Child Development Agency (CDA) — the central authority — should give clear direction.
The Hague convention aims to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international borders by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.
In cases of abduction, these children are usually entangled in custody disputes between parents.
Goicoechea said, however, that the biggest challenge in implementing and operating the convention is expedition.
“We would expect that the central authority and the judiciary [would deal] with these cases in an urgent manner. According to the convention, this should take place within a time frame of six weeks, so I think it’s important both the central authority and judiciary review the proceedings and make any adjustment that might be necessary to ensure the cases can be decided in this short time frame,” he explained.
Goicoechea added: “The longer it takes, the more complicated [the] issues that arise, because the child might settle down in a new jurisdiction and if sent back, he or she would again suffer the effects of the removal. Legally speaking, more complications arise if the case takes longer to be decided.”
The regional representative said it was comforting to know that the CDA is looking at mediation in these cases as amicable solutions in family matters are usually better than a court order.
He also pointed out that though there are now 97 states which are party to the convention, there’s still much to be done regarding implementation to ensure the convention can fulfil its purpose.
Goicoechea also said that, for the first time, Jamaica will join a global meeting in October to assess the operation of the convention and see the practices and challenges of other jurisdictions.
The convention is expected to ease the often long, expensive and limited success process in Jamaica, and elsewhere, of seeking the return of these children.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding a child abducted to Jamaica please feel free to contact us 24 / 7. We are always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)