Mothers and their supporters were in The Hague today as delegates from all parts of the world arrived for the Eighth Meeting of the Special Commission on the practical operation of the Hague (HCCH) Child Abduction Convention.
The Convention was set up in 1980 to address civil aspects of cross-border child abductions. It aims to protect children by providing a system of cooperation between Contracting Parties and a procedure for the swift return of the child to their State of habitual residence. The Convention is based on the principle that nthe return of a wrongfully removed or retained child is in their interests, unless one of the exceptions applies, including the “grave risk” exception established in Article 13(1)(b).
While originally it was primarily non-custodial fathers who abducted or retained their children abroad, nowadays in over 75% of the cases it is primary-carer mothers who are taking their children, mostly back to their country of origin, often in order to escape domestic abuse.
This change of pattern involves inherent risks for a safe return of mothers and their children, in particular in situations when the ‘left behind’ father is a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
These important matters will be addressed by the Special Commission meeting.
In the margins of the meeting, representatives of GlobalARRK and Hague Mothers, two charities working to support and safeguard mothers and children in these circumstances, handed a global #ProtectHagueVictims petition with over 37,000 signatures to the Secretary General of the HCCH, Dr Christophe Bernasconi. Receiving the petition, the Secretary General said that he did so ‘as an expression of respect and empathy for the mothers and families who have endured the pain and trauma of domestic violence’. He also committed ‘to listen, empathise, and understand the gravity’ of their experiences, and to remain available for discussions beyond the Special Commission meeting.
The petition was created by GlobalARRK in partnership with: FiLiA Hague Mothers; New Zealand Hague Collective; Ark of Hope, Australia; Hague Collective, US; Sanctuary for Families, US; Hague Mothers Japan; Maes de Haia, Brazil; Revibra, Europe/ Brazil; and Far From Home, India. The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls had also sent a letter to the HCCH regarding the operation of the Child Abduction Convention in cases involving domestic violence.
Mothers impacted by the Hague Abduction Convention, EU Hague Mothers and Pinay sa Holland – Gabriela, were also represented at the event.
Petition Link: www.change.org/ProtectHagueVictims