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After years of lobbying, Japan signs Hague Convention

Calgary is a diverse city with people from all over the world. Immigrants have long made Calgary and Alberta their homes, but that immigrant experience continues to change. For a long time, when an immigrant moved here, he or she stayed here. There were very few who could afford to go back to the country from which they came, so they settled in Calgary and became Canadians. Now, it is much easier for immigrants to live their lives in Calgary, but go back to their home countries on a regular basis. It is also common for Canadian-born children to go and visit family and friends in their parent's home country.

The problem arises when marriages end and parents separate.  A non-Canadian born parent can take the child to his or her home country and defy an Alberta family court child custody order. For the Canadian-born parent, it is devastating to learn that he or she may never see his or her child again.

This is why the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction was created. For signatory countries like Canada, when a child is brought into another signatory country by a parent who is ignoring an existing child custody order from the child's home country, the signatory country must help locate and return the child.

For years, Japan has ignored demands from Canadian parents to return their abducted children living in Japan. On occasion, Japanese police went so far as to arrest the left-behind parents trying to see their children. Now, after years of pressure, the Japanese government has signed onto the Hague Convention. Starting April 1, 2014, Japan will  comply with the Hague Convention and cooperate in returning children whose parents have tried to escape Canadian custodial orders.

Source: Vancouver Sun, "Japan ratifies child protection treaty," Daphne Bramham, Jan. 24, 2014

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