Coalition of Parents of Abducted Children
Parents Demand Laws to Protect Children from International Abductions
At least 150 children are abducted from Australia by a parent each year.
Some are never found.
Now, the Coalition of Parents of Abducted Children (COPAC) is supporting a campaign led by the Family Law Reform Association (FLRA) for the introduction of new laws to protect children from being abducted from Australia.
In many developed countries, International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) is a crime, but not in Australia.
The FLRA is calling on the Australian Government to criminalise this shocking crime. They are seeking an urgent meeting with the Federal Attorney-General to have the proposed law introduced as quickly as possible.
NSW Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner, Ken Thompson, whose 5-year- old-son, Andrew, was abducted in 2008 said, “Australia has the highest per capita rate of IPCA in the world. This highlights the need for new laws. It’s far too easy for a parent to abduct a child”.
Mr Thompson says, “IPCA is an extreme form of child abuse. These parents are emotionally unstable, or have simply decided they want to live in another country, or they refuse to work through the normal legal processes. It’s the ultimate act of selfishness”.
Canberra businessman Frederick Mack spent seven years and $500,000 before returning with his abducted son from Germany. “If someone flees Australia after committing a crime involving money the legal system swings into action, yet when a child is abducted there are no laws in place. This has to change!” he said.
Melbourne man George Pessor’s two boys were illegally retained in Sweden while visiting their mother. He found them and brought them home, but the search left him bankrupt. He said, “It’s every parent’s nightmare to not know where your child is and not knowing if your child will see you again. Laws should protect children, ours protect their kidnappers!”
Sydney author and businesswoman Margaret Wilcox searched for her daughter for 14 years. She said, “The abduction of a child by a parent is a terrible crime against the child’s human rights. Australia needs to create and adopt laws that reflect the seriousness of parental child abduction”.
Australian true crime author Robin Bowles also supports the proposal. Her grandson was abducted to France in 1999 and was not returned.
COPAC wants the Federal Attorney-General to work with the Family Law Reform Association to make Australia safer for children.
FAMILY LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION NSW Inc
“Working for equality for all in family law matters”
FAMILY LAW REFORM ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR CHILD ABDUCTION LAW
Government figures reveal that about 150 children are abducted each year by a parent.
The real figure is much higher because official figures only include children abducted to countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention.
The Family Law Reform Association (FLRA) is calling for new laws to prevent children being abducted from Australia by a parent.
In a letter to the Australian Attorney-General, the Secretary of the FLRA (Mrs Coral Slattery) says the association is alarmed about the number of children being abducted from Australia.
International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) is one of the most extreme forms of abuse a parent can inflict upon a child, “These children are suddenly ripped away from one of their parents and everything they’ve ever known” said Mrs Slattery. IPCA causes extreme psychological damage to the child.
Unlike several other developed countries, IPCA is not a crime in Australia.
“This places Australian children at a much higher level of risk than children in other countries” says Mrs Slattery.
Other parenting groups and international organizations have joined with the FLRA to campaign for the proposed legislation, along with stiff penalties for parents who break the proposed law.
“Australians don’t tolerate other forms of child abuse and they won’t tolerate this form either. An international abduction can happen to any child at any time because there are no laws to prevent it”, said Mrs Slattery.
Because IPCA is not a crime in Australia, the other parent has to navigate through a complex maze of national and international legal systems. “This is extremely expensive and slow, and happens when the parent is seriously traumatized and at a time when quick action is needed”, said Mrs Slattery.
The proposed law will deter parents who might consider abducting their children. It will also allow measures to be put in place to find abducted children sooner so the process of returning the child can begin more quickly.
“Our children are our future. We want to work with the Attorney-General to help reduce the risk of them being abducted” said Mrs Slattery.
Spokesperson: Ken Thompson
Federal Police in fight over stolen kids
- From: The Sunday Telegraph
- August 21, 2011
Figures supplied by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to a Senate inquiry into international child abduction show the names of 12,000 children have been placed on a "watch" list by the courts.
The watch register operates at international sea ports and airports with the presentation of a child's passport activating an alert to the AFP.
However, the AFP claims the system is in desperate need of an overhaul with officers being tied up dealing with children who were not an abduction risk instead of focusing on those that are.
In a scathing submission to the inquiry, the AFP claimed hundreds of children had simply been "forgotten" and remained on the list despite no longer being at risk.
It estimated at least two children per week were being wrongly apprehended at the airport gates as their names had not been removed from the list, or who had been put on it by "vexatious" parents.
So far this year, there have been 2565 children added to the list and, the previous year, the names of 2524 children were added to the list.
The AFP claimed its officers were forced to deal with 142 child-alert activations at the airport gate, with some children who were not real flight-risk threats missing flights.
At the same time, investigations into real child abduction offences were hampered by the Family Law Act, which restricted AFP officers from using telecommunication interception powers.
Officers also had no powers to compel financial institutions and phone companies to release transaction, telephone or call charge records to assist in locating a child.
The Senate inquiry follows an international search launched by a Sydney dad for his missing son. The father, who cannot be identified, quit his job to cycle across Europe in the hope of finding his son.
He lodged a submission to the inquiry, saying it was often up to the parent to initiate court orders to get information about the child's whereabouts.
"You can't measure the emotional cost of not knowing where your child is ... (or if ) your child is alive," he said.
"There is very little assistance for parents in this position, and almost no financial assistance. It has cost me over $100,000 in legal bills, seeking court orders to cancel passports, or subpoena airlines."