Pakistan Joins the Child Abduction Convention
24 January 2017 by Lisa O'Boyle
On 22nd of December 2016 Pakistan acceded The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 (‘The Child Abduction Convention’ or `The Convention’). This will enter into force on 1st of March 2017.
What is The Child Abduction Convention?
The Convention only comes into play when abduction occurs between Countries which are signatory to the Child Abduction Convention.
Its effect is to make the return of a child, who has been wrongfully removed from his country of habitual residence, mandatory if proceedings are commenced during the first 12 months after abduction unless the article 13 defences apply. The defences are consent, acquiescence or a “grave risk” that the child will be exposed to physical or psychological harm. The Convention also ensures that the rights of access and custody in one-member state are respected in the other member state.
In practice, The International Child Abduction and Contact Centre in England and Wales will liaise with the Central Authority of Pakistan in dealing with the applications and the agreed set of rules as set out in the Convention, rather than the Pakistani Law, will apply. This will enable a speedier return of children who are abducted whether to or from Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The speedy process is essential in the context of child abduction and to protect the child from harm. Indeed, the more time passes due to slow procedure, the more likely it will be that the child will have settled. With time it will become against the child’s best interest for them to be returned because the disruption and harm this would cause to the child.
What is the significance of Pakistan joining The Child Abduction Convention?
Firstly, there are an estimate of 1.17 million British Pakistanis who may directly benefit from the mechanics which the Convention ensures in the event of an abduction. Secondly, Pakistan is the first South Asian Country and the 96th signatory to the Convention. This sets an example to other Countries and who will potentially be tempted to join the Convention too. The overall result is that more children will be protected from international abductions.