In your practice do you see child abductions by a parent increasing or slowing down?
When I first started practising in this area in the late 1970’s such cases were rare. I have seen a steady increase in my practice where I might have 7-10 cases per year. Abduction cases are very time intense. We have to put everything down when such a case comes in as we have to assemble evidence from overseas, translate to English, and meet the requirements of the Hague convention which mandates action within 6 weeks, which rarely occurs in Canada.
While statistics are not as complete as we would like the Hague conference commissioned three surveys to track global trends regarding applications under the Hague abduction convention. The data is from surveys taken in 1999, 2003 and 2008. Not all member states provide statistical information and not all international abduction cases are included.
What we do know is:
- There was an increase in global applications under the Hague convention from 1,151 in 1999 to 2,321 in 2008.
- The process to secure a court ordered return of a child took longer in 2008 than in previous years. It went from 107 days in 1999 to 166 days in 2008.
- All three surveys indicated that 70% of the abductors were mothers.
- In Canada the number of applications for return or access from other state parties (“incoming” applications) increased by 41% from 1999 to 2008.
- In 2008 of the return applications received in Canada from other states, 59% ended with return orders by the courts. This return rate was higher than the global average of 46%.
- Children aged one to five, were the highest risk age group to be abducted based upon statistics from the missing children’s network in Quebec.
- Although there are fluctuations from year to year, the general trend is an increase in applications made under the Hague convention.
- The Hague conference is securing funding to conduct a fourth survey.
- In Canada there are several agencies that collect data on child abductions (RCMP, foreign affairs, NGOS)