Congressman Chris Smith to chair hearing on International Child Abduction this afternoon–Watch it here
Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, will preside over a hearing this afternoon to provide an update on how well the Goldman Act is being enforced. The panel will examine inconsistencies in previous annual reports on international child abduction, which are required by the Goldman Act for the State Department to submit to Congress each year by April 30.
Between 2008 and 2017, nearly 11,000 children were unlawfully removed from their country of residence by one of their parents, without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the courts; the children in such cases almost always deprived of contact with their other parent. According to State Department estimates, there are around 600 new abductions from the U.S. under such circumstances every year. The return rate of children in these cases is typically less than 20 percent.
Congressman Smith introduced the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014, which was signed into law in 2014, (P.L. 113-150) to provide government assistance to parents of children wrongfully taken from them by the other parent without their consent.
“The Goldman Act gave the U.S. State Department serious enforcement measures of child abduction law, which were lacking in the Hague Convention,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, these new measures were not well put to use in the last Administration, and I am hopeful that the current Administration will use the Goldman Act to hold countries accountable for the sake of broken-hearted parents and their missing children.”
The Goldman Act is named after a Tinton Falls, NJ father, David Goldman and his son Sean, who were successfully reunited after the father’s five year-long battle in foreign courts to regain custody rights, without the decisive support of the U.S. government.
The law provides the State Department with specific actions it can take to help ensure the safe return of abducted children, including the delay of state visits, cancellation of exchanges, suspension of assistance, and even criminal extradition of parents who wrongfully abduct children. It also required the Secretary of State to submit a yearly report to Congress by April 30 on international child abduction, to inform all judges ruling on cases of child custody or international travel.
Ms. Suzanne Lawrence, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues in theU.S. Department of State, Ms. Patricia Apy, International and Interstate Family Law Attorney with Paras, Apy, and Reiss in Red Bank, and Mr. James Cook, Father of Four Children Abducted in Japan will testify before Smith’s committee today.