Canada / Belize: Canadian woman arrested in Central America in parental abduction case


 

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A woman who has been on the run from police for the last three years after kidnapping her son and fleeing the country has been arrested in Belize and returned to Canada to face charges.

Lethbridge police launched an investigation in January of 2014 after Robin Leanne Greenway-Trockstad failed to drop off her 11-month-old son, Treyson, to her ex-husband for a court-ordered visit.

Investigators say she then sent a text message saying she had left the country.

A couple of days later, a court order gave Treyson’s father sole interim custody and his mother was ordered to return the boy to Canada.

The order was also emailed to Greenway-Trockstad and family members who were in contact with her and police say they made several attempts to reach her but she did not respond.

In February 2014, Greenway-Trockstad was charged with child abduction and an arrest warrant was issued.

Investigators tracked her and her son to Mexico, Guatamala and Belize and say she has moved around Central America over that last few years to intentionally evade capture.

“One of the significant challenges of an international investigation is navigating foreign bureaucracy,” said Sgt. Cam Van Roon, a member of the Criminal Investigation Section and the primary investigator.  “The agencies we worked with were all very cooperative and helpful, but the laws, rules and regulations they are bound by sometimes differ from ours so there was a lot of red tape that caused delays and those delays often resulted in the accused being able to move before authorities were able to apprehend her.”

Lethbridge police were contacted on July 19, 2017 with information about the wherabouts of the mother and son.

Belize police were able to locate Greenway-Trockstad and Treyson, now four, in San Ignacio in the Cayo District and they were taken into custody.

Greenway-Trockstad was moved to a jail in Belmopan and fined for failing to produce valid immigration documents.

She was deported to the U.S. on August 9th and arrested and then returned to Canada where she was taken into custody by Lethbridge police at the Calgary airport.

The little boy was placed in the care of Belize Human Services and will return to Canada with Global Affairs officials where he will be reunited with his father.

“This has been an extremely lengthy and complex investigation but we are pleased to be one step closer to being able to return this young boy to his father and family in Canada who have been waiting more than three years to get him back,” said Van Roon.

Robin Leanne Greenway-Trockstad, 33, is charged with child abduction and on Thursday was remanded into custody.

She is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

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Government likely to junk inter-parental child abduction bill


November 8, 2016

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

NEW DELHI: Despite international pressure, the Centre is likely to junk the bill on inter-parental child abduction, which deals with child custody issues for NRI couples and would have paved the way for India’s accession to the Hague Convention.

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The Law Commission, though, recently submitted its report to the Law Ministry and stuck to its 2007 stand advising the government to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction (1980).

“We are very clear that we are not signing the Hague Convention. This is a decision collectively arrived at by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” said a senior WCD Ministry official.

On June 22, 2016, the WCD Ministry had uploaded on its website a proposal to enact a draft of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016. Subsequently, the draft bill was placed on the website seeking comments.

The draft bill was prepared following a reference made by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Law Commission of India and the WCD Ministry to examine the issue and consider whether recommendations should be made to enact a suitable law and for signing the Hague Convention.

However, the bill has since been removed from the ministry’s website.

The draft envisaged “prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained in a contracting state, and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one contracting state are respected in other contracting states.”

It also proposed a central authority to discover the whereabouts of the child, to prevent further harm to any such child and to secure the voluntary return of the child to the signatory nation.
WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi has expressed apprehension over acceding to the Convention at several forums, primarily on two grounds – that taking such a decision will not be in the interest of aggrieved women and because the government maintains that there are fewer instances of Indian children being abducted and taken abroad.

At an event last month she had said, “Personally, in the beginning, when I was new, I thought we should join the Convention because we get protection. But with time and after interacting with women who have been abandoned by their husbands abroad, had their passports snatched from them, been beaten up, and have somehow scraped the money and are in terrible fear, I wonder whether we should join or not.”

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No summary return principle in internal child ‘abduction’


October 27, 2016

Source: marilynstowe.co.uk

One of the biggest fears for a separated parent, particularly the parent with whom the child is not residing, is that the other parent may try to abduct the child to another country.

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Close behind this, I suspect, is the fear that the other parent may simply move the child a long way away, without actually leaving the country, thereby stretching or even severing the connection between the ‘remaining parent’ and the child, and putting that parent at a serious disadvantage in any subsequent proceedings concerning arrangements for the child.

Of course, if there has been an international child abduction and the child has been removed to a country that is a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction then the remaining parent can seek the summary return of the child to its home country, where the courts will decide what the future arrangements for the child should be. However, should the courts take a similar approach to an internal ‘abduction’, ordering that the child be returned to where it lived before it was moved, before proceeding with the case?

That was the question that fell to be determined by the Court of Appeal in the recent case Re R (Child).

The facts in Re R were that the parents began living together in Kent in 2013 and the mother gave birth to their son in June 2015. The relationship, however, soon broke down and on 11 January this year the mother left the family home with the child and, without the father’s knowledge or consent, took him to the North East, where her parents live. She maintained that she had done this because the father had been abusive towards her.

The father applied to the court for a preliminary order that the child be returned to the family home, pending the outcome of proceedings concerning arrangements for him.

The father’s application was dismissed by the District Judge. Importantly, the parties had agreed that the child would live with the mother during the course of the proceedings, and the District Judge was concerned that forcing the mother to move back to Kent might have a detrimental effect upon her wellbeing, which may well have an impact upon her ability to care for the child. He rejected the father’s argument that the court should take the same approach as in an international abduction case and order the summary return of the child. Instead, he simply approached the case on the basis of what was best for the child’s welfare, concluding that his welfare would be best served by the child remaining with his mother in the North East.

The father appealed the District Judge’s decision, but his appeal was dismissed. He appealed again, to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal found that there was no principle in an internal ‘abduction’ case that the child should be summarily returned. The matter of whether or not the child should be returned should be decided on the basis of what was best for the child’s welfare. In some cases the court may decide that it is best for the child’s welfare for him to be returned, in other cases it may decide that it is best for his welfare that he is not returned. The principles behind the Hague Convention have no application. (Indeed, on an abduction to a non-Hague Convention country the matter of whether the child should be returned would be determined by reference to the child’s welfare.)

The only matter left for the Court of Appeal to decide was whether the District Judge had erred in his decision as to what was best for the child’s welfare. The father had argued, for example, that the District Judge gave too much weight to the allegations that the mother had made about the father and her alleged anxiety about returning to Kent. However, the Court of Appeal was not prepared to interfere with the District Judge’s decision, finding that he was entitled to conclude that moving back to Kent may have an adverse impact on the mother, and therefore on the child.

The father’s appeal was therefore dismissed.

You can read the full report of the case here.

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Parents who abduct children to foreign land may be jailed


October 18, 2016

Source: newindianexpress.com

NEW DELHI: Parents who forcibly take their children to a foreign land following a marital discord can be jailed for a year, if Law Commission has its way.

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In a proposed draft law on ‘parental abduction’, the Commission, which advises the government on legal reform, has said, “When such a kind of diverse family unit breaks down, children (sometimes babies) suffer, as they are dragged into international legal battle between their parents”.

The panel, which had already examined the issue of parental adbuction in 2009, has rewritten the draft bill prepared by the Women and Child Development Ministry after the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February asked it to examine “multiple issues involved in inter-country, inter-parental child removal amongst families”.

Inter-spousal child removal, it noted, can be termed as most unfortunate as the children are abducted by their own parents to India or to other foreign jurisdiction in violation of court orders.

The law panel said whoever wrongfully removes or retains a child either himself or through other person from the custody of a parent can be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 or with both.

For those who wilfully misrepresent facts or conceal information related to the location of the child will be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to Rs 5,000 or with both, it has recommended.

The draft bill has also proposed setting up of a central authority to discover the whereabouts of a child who has been wrongfully removed. It will also prevent further harm to any such child and secure his or her voluntary return to the habitual residence.

It said the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980, came into force on December 1, 1983 and it would be necessary to implement it in so far as they relate to an expeditious return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained in violation of the custody rights or access rights.

“In such an eventuality, the child is taken to a state with a different legal system, culture and language. The child loses contact with the other parent and is transplanted in an entirely different society having different traditions and norms of life,” the report submitted to the government today said. More than three crore Indians live in foreign countries, having cross-border matrimonial relationships.

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Man charged in kidnapping of stepdaughter, 13, and her infant son


October 13, 2016

Source: stltoday.com

A Madison County man captured in West Virginia last month and accused of abducting his 13-year-old stepdaughter and her infant son has been brought back to Illinois.

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Christopher M. Derleth, 39, was being held in the Madison County Jail on Wednesday morning.

Authorities say Derleth was found by authorities in a rural part of West Virginia last month with his stepdaughter Katherine Derleth and her 3-week-old son. He waived extradition there and was returned to Illinois.

Derleth is being held in Madison County in lieu of $200,000 bail on charges of aggravated kidnapping and parental abduction.

Katherine and her baby had been reported missing from a foster home in rural Madison County on Sept. 17.

The next week, West Virginia police and Madison County deputies tracked down Derleth after he used a credit card at a convenience store. Katherine and the baby were with him. They were found on Sept. 24 in a remote campsite near Kayford, a small rural mining community more than 500 miles east of St. Louis.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the girl and her son were in good condition. They are in protective custody.

Two weeks before the son was born, Christopher Derleth was barred by a court order from seeing his stepdaughter pending a criminal investigation in Bond County. His stepdaughter had lived with him before the order.

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Japan denies being ’black hole’ for children abducted by estranged parent


October 5, 2016

Source: torontosun.com

TORONTO — The Japanese government insists it has been complying with international child-abduction rules despite criticism to the contrary from Canadian parents who have been unable to gain access to their children in Japan.

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Tim Terstege holds his son Liefie at a lawyer’s office in Yokohama, Japan, in February 2015, the last time they were together. Terstege is one of dozens of Canadian parents deprived of access to their children in Japan

In a statement, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its top priority is to protect the interests of the children involved in such disputes.

“It is not right to see Japan as having legitimized child abduction in custody disputes, or of being a black hole for children whose parents are separated/divorced,” the ministry said.

“We consider it highly important to deal with international child abduction in accordance with internationally standardized rules.”

Earlier this week, The Canadian Press reported on the difficulties Canadian and other non-Japanese parents — mostly fathers — have in accessing their children in Japan after marital breakdowns. In some cases and despite court orders, the mothers have abducted the children and fled to Japan, where they remain with impunity, leaving the other parent frozen out.

Japan signed on to the Hague Convention on international child abductions in 2014 but parents say it has been of little help in getting their children returned to Canada, or even in getting access to them.

Colin Jones, a Canadian lawyer in Kyoto, said in an interview Wednesday that the problem isn’t so much with adherence to the Hague Convention, but rather with a Japanese court system that lacks tools for forcing people to return children. Police will typically not get involved in custody battles, he said, and no one will use force to separate a child from a parent unwilling to hand them over.

“Even if you win, you have trouble getting the child back,” Jones said. “A really recalcitrant parent can frustrate the process.”

In its 2016 annual report in international parental child abductions, the U.S. State Department praised the Japanese central authority for how it manages the convention process and said the courts had processed cases and issued orders in a timely manner.

However, the report did fault the country for failing to comply with its obligations in terms of the enforcement of return orders.

“A Japanese court issued the first convention return order to United States in early 2015,” the report states.

“Authorities attempted, but were unable to effectuate enforcement of the court order by Dec. 31, 2015, exposing what may be a systemic flaw in Japan’s ability to enforce return orders.”

One Canadian father, Tim Terstege, said custody in Japan is effectively determined by whichever parent abducts the child first, and the courts appear powerless to do anything about it. In his case, Terstege has had problems accessing his son even for the minimal court-ordered 24 hours a year.

Global Affairs Canada said it was currently dealing with 25 cases involving Canadian children in Japan but refused to comment.

Jones said Japan’s legal system differs from that in North America in that judges may not necessarily have the same kind of powers to issue orders to give up a child or allow a parent access.

“One parent ends up having control of the child and (Japanese) courts just want to defer to that parent,” Jones said.

While Japan has returned some abducted children to their home countries, parents might expect too much of a system that isn’t designed to intercede in a way that might happen in Canada or the United States, Jones said.

“They expect some magical child-recapture organization to spring into being but it doesn’t,” he said. “You’re basically left with what the domestic institutions already have.”

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Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters


October 5, 2016

Source: alaskapublic.org

Child abduction is a nightmare not many parents have had to deal with, but Anchorage author Lizbeth Meredith knows first hand how terrifying it is. In 1994, her former husband kidnapped their two young daughters and took them to Greece.

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It took two years to get them back. Meredith has written a memoir of that time called Pieces of Me. She says she tried to make her marriage work for herself and her girls but it just got worse.

MEREDITH: It had been a miserable, miserable union. But I thought, “I can do this. I can stay in this marriage”. It escalated in 1990 to the point of violence, that he strangled me. And the girls were there. One daughter was upstairs and the other one was watching. And they were very little. And I think something snapped in that moment, I had a friend who said, “You alone will know when it’s time to leave. Only you will know this.” And that was that moment where I thought, they cannot be raised like this. I don’t deserve this. They certainly don’t deserve this, and I don’t want them growing up thinking this is normal.

TOWNSEND: When you left, what kind of court battle did you have about custody and visiting?

MEREDITH: It was ugly. It was an extension of the control. I had made this bold move in ascent to get away from this kind of life and this abusive relationship. And so I was fortunate to have the assistance of Alaska Legal Services, and my husband hired an attorney and it was just very contentious. In the end, I got joint legal custody and sole physical custody. The girls were pretty tiny. Sometimes my former husband would visit during the days that he’d asked for and that was, quite honestly I needed a break, sometimes he would take the girls for visitation very regularly. I thought, well this could get better over time and then it would just change. And so he’d stop visiting or he’d start driving around the house, break into the house, look in the windows. One or two times, I got protective orders and it was just tense.

TOWNSEND: What kind of support did you have around you? How isolated did you feel in this?

MEREDITH: I by then, had been on food stamps, had finished my degree. I had a couple years of college before I got married and then got a job at a wake and abused women aid and crisis. And that was just a fabulous time for me because by then I’d made some friends back, I wasn’t isolated anymore, I had a roommate who was grandmotherly age for the girls. And she, to this day, still loves them. But I didn’t realize then was the more strong I felt, the more independent, the more I accomplished, the more at risk I would be. Even though I was no longer with my former husband, that for him was absolutely unacceptable. So when I graduated college, when I got the job, all of those things seemed to really enrage him.

TOWNSEND: He was still threatened somehow…

MEREDITH: Yes. He was still threatened and he one time did tell me, “I do these things because I think if I make you miserable enough, you’ll come back.”

TOWNSEND: 1994 arrives. You’ve had this sort of back and forth tense relationship and then one day he leaves with them. How did you first find out that he had actually left?

MEREDITH: I went to pick the children up. We just finished renegotiating that he wouldn’t come to my home to drop off the girls. That we would have to do it at the daycare. I showed up to pick the girls up on a snowy day after work and they weren’t there. And staff had not heard from him, which was kind of unusual. I thought, “Well. OK. We’ll just go figure this out.” And so I went back home, tried to make some phone calls and then it just became abundantly clear, “This is not normal.” So I went ahead and eventually called police. And I think the officer first said, “Ma’mm. He’s the dad. Why do you gotta be so hard on him? Can you just let him have extra time? Why does this have to be such a high-tone thing?” Because he didn’t know. And so when I explained it to him more clearly, he was like, “OK. I understand. So I’m going to do some digging around.” And then within a couple hours he heard conformation that two days before, the day that my kids went to be with their dad for visitation, that he had taken them and left the country.

TOWNSEND: I can’t imagine what you were feeling when you realized that he not only abducted your daughters, but had left the entire United States. What was that moment like?

MEREDITH: It was terrifying and yet almost immediately after, I realized the worst thing has happened, and if I can resolve this, if I can get the girls back, we are done. I can bring them home and this will be the end of all of these years of chaos.

 

Lizbeth Meredith’s new memoir is called Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters. Her book launch is Wednesday at UAA’s book store at 5 pm.

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