There has been a significant step forward in the field of international parental abduction this week, with the announcement of legal assistance being launched in Japan.
Japan has been placed under increasing pressure by the Hague Convention Countries to enter into reciprocal rules and agreements regarding abducted children, and how cases involving Abduction will be dealt with. Historically, the country has been reluctant to enter into any such agreements, and has adopted a very protectionist attitude towards its citizens, offering little assistance to a non-national parent whose child has been taken there.
At the end of last year, there were signs that the government was at least considering the issue but progress still seemed a long way off. However, in the past week, it has been announced that a legal advice scheme has been set up, to help non-residents navigate the Japanese legal system if they need to instigate court proceedings for the return of their child.
Whilst the new measures fall a long way short of the assistance and system which is offered by Hague Convention Countries, they mark a very significant change in the previous approach to abduction cases, and are seen as a sign that there is hope of more significant change to come. The effect of the scheme remains to be seen, but anything which helps foreign parents navigate the complex Japanese legal system must be welcomed.
Sadly, many other countries are still failing to engage in meaningful discussions about the implementation of abduction systems and agreements, leaving many parents each year without any form of effective recourse. Parents in those situations are generally reliant upon the assistance of charities such as Reunite and diplomatic efforts, and all too often have to accept there is little prospect of securing the return of a child home. For anyone with links to countries outside the Hague Convention, prevention continues to remain a critical part of dealing with securing a child’s place of residence.
By Family Law Solicitor Cara Nuttall.