WASHINGTON: An influential US lawmaker today introduced a legislation that will remove tariff benefits for countries found to be non-compliant in returning American children abducted and taken to another country by one parent without the consent of the other, a move may impact India.
The bill ‘Bindu Philips and Devon Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act of 2017’ is named after two parents, an Indian-American and a Brazilian-American, both of whom allege that their kids were abducted and taken to India and Brazil respectively and despite US court orders the two countries are not helping them get their dear ones back.
“Bindu Philips fought valiantly in India for over eight years for the return of her abducted twin sons, only to be given the incessant delays in India’s courts and little support from the Obama administration,” Congressman Chris Smith, Chair of the House panel on global human rights, said.
“Just recently, she was finally granted a short visit with her children in India, but the children’s father marred the time with harassment and monitoring, refusing to let the children and mother leave a hotel for seven days.
“Devon Davenport has had a return order for his daughter Nadia from Brazil since 2009. He has won every single one of the 24 appeals against the order–but Brazil still will not enforce its own return order,” the Republican lawmaker said.
Smith said that 11 of the 13 countries found to be non- compliant in the annual Goldman Report by the US State Department in the return of abducted American children are still receiving billions of dollars in tariff exemptions under the Generalised System of Preferences.
“We must cease rewarding countries that aid abductors. When is enough finally enough?” he asked.
In 2016, 629 American children were taken from the US by one parent without the consent of the other, often in direct violation of valid US court orders, US criminal law and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
The Obama administration’s refusal to apply sanctions against countries that fail to return abducted children has led to a rate of return of only 16 per cent, Smith said.
Noting that for years, the US government response to abductions has been an engraved invitation to abductors, Smith said abductors have an 84 per cent chance of no penalty for ripping their child from home and family in the US.
“It is my hope and expectation that this year, the State Department will begin to act more decisively on behalf of American families so that more children come home,” he said.
The new bill proposes to amend the Generalised System of Preferences, a trade programme designed to promote economic growth in the developing world through duty free entry for some products, so that any country named as non-compliant in the prompted resolutions of abductions would lose trade benefits granted by the US.
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