In the 1980s, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, or simply the Hague Abduction Convention, was drafted to expedite the process of returning a child home after the child has been internationally abducted by a parent. The Convention applies to children under the age of 16.
Canada began enforcing the Convention in 1983, and while the number of signatories continues to grow, many countries still do not participate. One such country is Lebanon, and that is where a Calgary mother says her ex-husband has taken their 7-year-old son.
Since the father and son left for Lebanon in late July, police in Calgary have issued a nationwide warrant for the father. The mother has also been granted sole custody of the boy since he was taken. A legal consent letter signed by the mother specified that the child should have been returned to Calgary on Sept. 1, but the mother now believes that the father planned in advance to permanently relocate to Lebanon with the child without the mother's consent.
Along with Calgary police, the RCMP, INTERPOL and consular officials in Lebanon are cooperating across jurisdictions to reach a resolution.
The Calgary Herald has more on this very difficult case.
In the words of the Convention, signatories agree "to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access."
Parents who have concerns about the possible international abduction of a child should seek legal counsel regarding the matter. The stakes are extremely high in these cases, and parents need to be acutely aware of their legal rights and responsibilities.