Let’s Change the System to protect vulnerable Families

Protect Victims under The Hague Convention


One of the main reasons parents ‘take’ or ‘abduct’ their children internationally is because they flee to their home country for the safety and security provided by their family. 90% of parents who contact GlobalARRK say they suffered domestic abuse in the country they fled.

Under The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction courts order children to return to the country where they are considered ‘habitually resident’. The courts consider the child’s ‘habitual residence’ as the country where the child has, most recently, been living. This is not necessarily the country where the child or parents are nationals or even have a legal right to remain. When the court orders the child to return to the country considered their ‘habitual residence’ this can put children and parents at risk of further abuse.

In order to mitigate the risk of returning children internationally under The Hague Convention judges can choose to make orders of protection or undertakings. It is important to note there is no standard procedure for this, so there is a lack of consistency. In addition, orders made in one jurisdiction are rarely applicable or enforceable in the other jurisdiction so when the family returns they are NOT protected at all.

What’s the solution? There needs to be robust and consistently applied procedures in place so that in every case where there is a safeguarding risk identified during a Hague proceeding, mirrored orders of protection are set up as standard.

A Mirrored Order is an order that has been  by the courts in both countries involved, this would make the order enforceable.

The consequences of failing to do this are tragic.

Murder after a Hague Return On 29th July 2008 Cassandra Hasanovic was stabbed to death by the father of her children as she travelled to a domestic violence refuge in Bognor Regis. She had been returned to England from Australia under The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Let’s learn from this and prevent this tragedy from happening to other vulnerable families.

“Cassie was devastated when under the Hague convention she was ordered to return the boys to England,” Mrs De Souza (Grandmother) said.

The current system is failing victims. After the court orders the child to return the child and parent can face further violent attacks as well as homelessness and poverty. They are sometimes forced back to live with the perpetrator because they have no funds to do otherwise. If the orders of protection are non-enforceable, vulnerable parents and children should not be ordered to return – to do so is literally putting lives at risk.

We urge you to support this campaign in the memory of Cassandra Hasanovic to protect vulnerable families across borders.

Lets get Mirrored Orders of Protection in place in every case where there is a safeguarding risk.

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