International parental child abduction (IPCA) and the illegal retention of children abroad are criminal offences according to both US federal law and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
194 countries of the world including India but excluding the US, Somalia and South Sudan, have ratified the UNCRC, which legally binds their governments to use legislative and administrative measures to combat IPCA and illegal child retention. All Governments who have ratified this legally binding treaty are accountable to the international community.
India ratified the UNCRC in 1992 and re-committed to it several times over the last 2 decades.
Yet, today over a 1000 children a year are abducted out of the US by one of their parents, and the numbers are on the rise.
India is the #3 top destination for IPCA.
You can search everywhere on the Internet, just don’t expect to find any recent numbers or reports on IPCA cases. The US State Department stopped reporting these statistics after 2013.
The US allows 1000s of children to exit US borders everyday without requiring the traveling parent to provide a letter of consent from the non-traveling parent. Once a child is abducted they rarely come back, and if they do, the psychological damage has already been done. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/buddy-system/201011/parental-child-abduction-and-its-impact
India lets the abducted children in, and then the Indian Judicial system facilitates their illegal retention.
These traumatized children remain in India for years while a long cross-border custody battle ensues between their feuding parents.
Meanwhile an innocent child has lost their childhood for ever.
Finally after the passage of a few years and several court dates, the Indian courts usually pass an order that the child remain in India under permanent sole custody of the abducting parent, since they have now already lived in India for so long that it would be against the best interests of the child to displace them from their new home!
There is an unfortunate American woman of Indian origin, Bindu Philips, who was a New Jersey stay-at-home mother to her twin boys. Her 8 year old sons have been illegally retained in India by her abusive husband for 6 years now. She has not seen them in years. Her father has been fighting a losing custody battle on her behalf in India. http://bringseanhome.org/tag/bindu-philips/
Left-behind parents like myself on average spend $100,000 in legal expenses in both the US and India- and we STILL don’t get our kids back.
Here is a link to the chain of events that a left-behind parent can expect once a child is abducted to India, which I have outlined above. http://lifetimechild.com
Is there any hope for a solution? The answer to this question depends on first finding the root of the problem.
A number of organizations and communities of left- behind parents have now joined hands – BOKHome, BAKHome, IStand Parents Network amongst others.
We have been doing our own research as to what are the underlying problems and what could be the possible solutions.
Ironically, we found through our research that the laws against international parental child abduction and the illegal retention of children abroad are already in existence in both the USA and India. However, governmental agencies seem inexplicably reluctant to accept that these laws exist and to ensure that these laws are enforced.
In the US: The US Department of State says that their hands are tied, although they promise they are doing everything they can. However, for over 2 decades they have failed so spectacularly to follow through with their own commitments that it appears now that maybe they simply don’t care. Not even the most simple, effective and totally free measures to prevent IPCA have been undertaken to date.
There are even parents who claim that the US DoS has not only been unhelpful but have in fact aided in some abductions and re-abductions.
I can get you in touch with one such American father who recently sued the U.S. State Department Office of Children’s issues- the case has gone up to the level of the US Federal court system now. His story is a heart-breaking story of how corruption still exists in the USA and how it has destroyed his life.
In March, 2000 the US State Department committed to developing an interagency database of the cases of IPCA so that they could share data with the NCMEC, the Department of Justice, after it had been noted that the State Department was still “solving” cases whereas the abducted child was retrieved a month earlier by the FBI.
This interagency database was supposed to be up and running in August 2000. 15 years later, it still does not exist.
In India: IPCA is a crime in India, but the US DoS warns abducting parents clearly on its website “Parental child abduction is not a crime in India.”
Left-behind parents have found unrelenting Congressional support and momentum for our cause in Congressman Chris Smith. He championed the Goldman Act which was enacted in 8/14, which gives the US Department of State more authority and also makes it accountable.
He recently questioned US Secretary of State John Kerry on Bindu Philips’ case. http://www.thehindu.com/news/kerry-quizzed-on-child-abductions-to-india/article6942102.ece
4 Organizations of left-behind parents participated in a 3 day conference in Washington DC late last month, called the International Parents’ Conference, Embassy Walk & Congressional Lobby Day on March 25-26, 2015.
The highlight of this event was the OPEN Congressional
Subcommittee hearing on 3/25/15.
Our children need a voice.