Stepping up measures to protect children of international parents from being abducted is fundamental especially in a scenario where this type of family is on the rise, Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said.
Protecting children from possible harm has always been one of our intrinsic values as Europeans, he added when speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a debate on matrimonial matters and international child abduction.
Zammit Dimech remarked that the need to strengthen legislation in this regard also results from a case in Malta whereby a child of an international family was abducted by one of the parents who attempted to take the child out of Europe. Zammit Dimech explained that although the child was returned to Malta, the process was not plain sailing as at first the decision of the Maltese courts on jurisdiction with regard to the child was not recognised by the courts of another Member State. Zammit Dimech said that these are real stories as abduction is in several cases conducted by parents passing through separation or divorce and not just by strangers. He added that this was a clear example of how Europe could make a difference in the life of citizens including children and righteous parents and uphold human rights.
Zammit Dimech who is a member of European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs hailed new measures in the recast regulation that will make the return of abducted children more efficient, the introduction of stipulated timeframes to avoid excessive delays in the return of the child, the introduction of mediation to facilitate possibility of reaching an amicable agreement, further training for those involved in such cases, as well as the obligation of Member States to provide adequate human and financial resources to responsible national authorities and the obligation to hear the child.
Zammit Dimech concluded by welcoming initiatives of non-profit organisations such as Amber Alert whereby children abducted are searched with the help of the public and expressed satisfaction that Malta had also joined the platform. He concluded by emphasising that in such cases, the most important principal remains that of safeguarding the interests of children.
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