We discuss International Missing Children’s Day, recognised round the world as a day to focus attention on the issue of international child abduction.
In 1983 Ronald Regan designated 25th May as the United States National Missing Children’s Day to highlight the issue of child abduction. The date was chosen because four years earlier on 25th May Ethan Patz who was 6 years old disappeared on his way to school. This date is now recognised round the world as a day to focus attention on the issue of international child abduction.
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was drafted to agree mechanisms between countries signing up to the convention for the quick return of children who had been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a country in which they were not habitually resident. The Convention came into effect for contacting countries in December 1983. By April 2014 there were 92 contracting states to the convention, most recently Japan which ratified in January 2014.
In Scotland the Central Authority deals with child abduction, both for children abducted from Scotland and children abducted into Scotland. In 2013 the authority dealt with about 50 cases, 35 incoming, (the most common countries being the United States and Latvia), and the rest being children removed to various countries from Scotland.
The rationale is that the court in the place where the removed child normally resided is in most cases best placed to decide where and with whom a child should live and whether and with whom a child should have contact.
Clear legal advice to parents about how to resolve disputes about their children, and the legal implications of taking matters into one’s own hands, is an important component in helping to minimise the trauma to children caused by them being abducted from their homes.