Child abduction – and smuggling children in hand luggage!

The world is small and seems to be getting smaller. 30 years ago, international child abduction and international contact problems were relatively rare – but they seem to becoming more common.

This apparent trend was highlighted recently with news reports of an attempt to “smuggle” a five month old boy into the United Arab Emirates without any proper documents – in hand luggage! Although the efforts of the Egyptian couple were discovered by airport security when the bag was subject to an x-ray scan at the Sharjah International Airport, it does show the remarkable, dangerous and utterly illegal lengths that parents are prepared to go to in order to transfer a child across a national border.

What was also remarkable given the normally huge levels of security in the Middle East, is that although the couple were denied entry into the UAE, they were only picked up at the airport, having apparently flown into the country without any documentation for their baby. How they got onto the plane in the first place, remains unclear.

Our family team deal with issues of international contact and child abduction and are aware that summer is the season when such problems most often emerge – with arrangements made for children with parents who have separated to spend time with the non-resident parent and his or her extended family abroad.

If you are worried about questions of international contact or child abduction, the law in England and Wales provides a comprehensive range of safeguards which can be activated, often at very short notice, whenever there is a real risk of child abduction. The UK is a signatory, along with [at the time of writing this blog] 87 other countries, to the 1988 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty which assists the speedy recovery of children under the age of 16 who have either been wrongly kept in a country which is not their usual residence, or who have been abducted from their country of normal residence.

Some of the safeguards against child abduction from the UK can be taken at very short notice and if you’re worried about your child being abducted, our team of experienced family lawyers are able to help you in putting together a plan to safeguard your child.

Our clear advice – if you’re worried about your children being taken overseas, make sure you take specialist legal advice well in advance.