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Criminal Resource Manual

1960. Alternate Remedy -- Hague Convention On The Civil Aspects Of International Child Abduction

Congress, in enacting this statute, expressly stated that nothing in this act should be construed as superseding the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention), and that the Hague Convention remedies are the procedures of choice for the return of abducted children.

The Hague Convention is an agreement among its signatories that, subject to certain limited exceptions and conditions, a child who is habitually resident in one country that is a party to the Hague Convention and who is removed to or retained in another country that is party to the Hague Convention in breach of the left-behind parent's custody rights shall be promptly returned to the country of habitual residence. This creates a treaty obligation to return an abducted child under 16 years of age if application is made within one year of the date of the wrongful removal or retention.

The United States signed the Hague Convention in 1988 and implemented Federal legislation under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA)(42 U.S.C. § 11601 et seq.). The Central Authority for the United States under the Hague Convention is the Office of Children's Issues, CA/OCS/CI, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, (202) 312-9700, fax (202) 312-9743. As of November, 2001, countries party with the United States under the Hague Convention were: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkino Faso, Canada, Chile, China (Hong Kong and Macau only), Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom including Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Island, Isle of Man and Montserrat, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Go to for further information about signatories to the Hague Convention or check with the Office of Children's Issues for later signatories to the Hague Convention.

Even in situations where the abducted child is taken to a non-Hague Convention country, the Office of Children's Issues may be able to initiate efforts to locate the abducted child, inquire as to the child's welfare, and possibly open communications to effect a return of the child.

[updated November 2001] [cited in USAM 9-74.200]