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Offline Diane

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Senate Hearing
« on: February 27, 2014, 07:11:52 PM »
So very thankful to those who fought for this bill and for the passage in the house and now hopefully the senate.  Watched the whole hearing and felt David Goldman was wonderful as always.   The testimony of the left behind parents was compelling and their courage in speaking, in this venue, impressive. Finally a glimmer of hope thanks to those who have never stopped fighting and who will never give up the battle to bring all the children home.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 07:18:17 AM by M.Capestro »

Offline Nana

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 08:49:37 PM »
I listened to a good part of the hearing, I wish that I had been paying attention and seen it sooner I would have gone to DC to sit with these amazing people.  The testimony was fantastic, it is so hard to summarize a horrifying part of your life in a few short minutes. There were several good points , one being why is this happening,  what mechanisms in our system are so broken that our children are being allowed to leave. In our case a Middle Eastern male is allowed to board a plane in New York with three small children and he has no luggage, doesn't anyone think this is strange.
 One of the hardest thing for us is to obtain good legal counsel, either in the US or in Jordan the country that the children were taken to. The Embassy will proved a list but as we found out ANYONE can be put on the list of lawyers.
and yes,
 we DO need US officials to become stronger advocates on behalf of left-behind parents and utilize the influence of our US government to bring about resolutions and bring our children home.

Offline Diane

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 12:25:05 PM »

The recommendation that the justice dept.  play a prominent role in returning children is a good one and vital to most  successful returns.  This is a crime and it is child abuse.  The FBI, should be able and mandated, to immediately step in and ask for extradition of these criminal child abductors.  They should have the support and backing of the U.S. state dept... and all other DOA officials who play a supporting role in their actions.


Congressman Miller had his three grandchildren returned,  after they were located,  and it only took three days.  He was aided by the FBI., Los Angeles County Sheriff's department,  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Mexican Authorities.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 12:29:58 PM by Diane »

Offline M.Capestro

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 03:28:29 PM »
LINK TO WATCH VIDEO:
http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/international-parental-child-abduction

There was an interesting exchange between Senator Boxer and Ambassador Jacobs during yesterday's Senate hearing regarding children abducted to Japan. During the conversation, Boxer asks Jacobs how many left-behind parents there are whose children have been abducted to Japan. Boxer answers that there are 80 children representing 58 cases. Boxer goes on to say, "We have stressed with the Japanese how important their performance is going forward, but also that we have not forgotten the cases that still exist. And we will not be satisfied until all of those children are home where they belong."

Going back and reviewing the numbers, OCI data indicated that between 2007 and 2012 175 children representing 126 cases were reported, and their 2002/2003 annual report reflects that there were 33 open cases. That would indicate at least 159 victim families reporting more than 200 abducted children...and that's just from numbers that are publicly available back to 2002. You have to wonder how many more exist.

It might be prudent for the Office of Children's Issues to refresh their memory before having a discussion with Japan about not forgotten cases.

A complete unofficial transcript of the conversation follows:

SENATOR BOXER: According to the State Department, Japanese courts have never ordered...never ordered the return of an abducted child, and that just doesn't add up. In fact there was no legal framework in place to secure the return of children abducted to Japan because Japan was not a party to the Hague Abduction Convention. But due to the tireless efforts of left-behind parents, like Patrick, to keep the spotlight on this issue, and sustained U.S. pressure, last month, as we know, Japan announced it would finally join the Convention. Well, we all hope it's a turning point for Japan, and, Ambassador Jacobs, you have stated that Japan has been one of the most intransigent countries on this. How can the U.S. work to ensure that Japan's decision to join the Hague Abduction Convention results in real progress in securing the return of abducted children. In other words, it's not just checking the box and saying I'll get those people off my back. How can we make sure they mean what they say when they signed.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Thank you very much for that question. This is something that we continue to work on, and so what we are going to do is to continue to engage with Japan to monitor every case. To talk to them about every case and to make sure they are complying with the Convention. I am optimistic that they will do it. I think that the effort that we and a number of other countries, the left-behind parents and the Congress put into persuading Japan to join the Convention has to have positive consequences.

SENATOR BOXER: Ms. Jacobs, do you have a sense of how many left-behind parents there are where the child was abducted and lives in Japan now? Can you give us a sense of it? What are we dealing with?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I can. There are currently 80 children representing 58 cases. Who...these are open cases with Japan.

SENATOR BOXER: Eighty children.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Eighty children, 58 cases.

SENATOR BOXER: Ok. So some siblings in there.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Yes.

SENATOR BOXER: So we say 58 cases. Ambassador, I'm wondering whether it might be useful.... The only reason I'm focusing on Japan, believe me, it's not to exclude anyone, but just because of Patrick and I know what he's gone through because I've seen him over the years in this tormented situation. Fifty-eight cases. Now, we know that they join the Hague, it's not retroactive. It's forward. But do you think there's a way that we could work with you, all my colleagues, to put pressure on Japan to show that they mean this by looking back and helping us resolve some of these cases? Do you think there's a way we could work together on that?

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I certainly think we can work together and we have stressed with the Japanese how important their performance is going forward, but also that we have not forgotten the cases that still exist. And we will not be satisfied until all of those children are home where they belong. And we look forward to working with you on finding ways to ensure that that happens.

SENATOR BOXER: Good. Well, Ms. Jacobs, what I would like to do is, just because I've been working this for so long on this particular case, maybe there's a way we can hone in on this and just say to the Japanese and do it in our way, you know, we can see the Ambassador, we can just have a multi-pronged effort where you talk to your people, we talk to our people, and the parents continue to do their work, that we can say, "You've signed this, wonderful, but now you need to bring justice to these cases." So, you'll work with us on that.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: I think that that sounds like a terrific plan.

SENATOR BOXER: Great.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: And we are.... We look forward to working with you. I can' tell you how important the interest of the Congress in the work that we do.

SENATOR BOXER: Good.

AMBASSADOR JACOBS: It really makes a difference overseas when I can walk into a meeting and say the Congress of the United States cares about this issue.

SENATOR BOXER: Well, Ambassador, you know you can. And this, Chairman, I'm so grateful to you for this. I think maybe we can have some results, Senator Corker, if we just.... I was suggesting that we just work on a multi-pronged plan. There's 58 cases. It just happened. The reason I'm saying Japan is because they just signed the Hague, but it's not retroactive, so if we can say to them, "We're very happy you did this, but can you please reopen those 58 cases." And we work in our way and the Ambassador works way and the parents work in their way...I look forward to working with both of you on that.

Offline gil

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 08:53:39 PM »
Jacobs was a complete embarrassment. It was painful to listen to her she was so bad. I'm sure her heart's in the right place but she's completely unqualified for that position. She was probably unqualified to be ambassador to Vanuatu too, but at least nobody cared about that.

Offline rmakielski

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 11:17:38 PM »
About 9 months ago, my legal representation corrected me when it comes to OCI. Ambassador Jacobs and OCI have no authority to take any legal action either on the criminal or civil side. They only have the narrow channel to communicate with LBPs and the foreign central authority. They are also restricted as to what information they are allowed to discuss. OCI is in the DOS hierarchy under Consular Affairs. As for DOS, returning our children is just not in their job description. Once I realized OCI is limited in its authority, I shifted focus and my relationship with OCI has improved. I have been apologizing to OCI ever since and reaffirmed my apology to Ambassador Jacobs last Thursday. I know as an LBP that criticizing OCI will not help bring my children home but only distract me. Ambassador Jacobs has been given a teaspoon to dig us all out of a blizzard. The Authority lies in the DOJ.
If you read all the testimonies, you will see all the recommendations to improve HR3212. If there is an LBP that wants to add to the list, you have until EOD Monday to submit your statement. There may not me another chance like this for at least another 4 years.
I place the my children rights above my own; Children have the right to have a relationship with both parents; I stand against domestic violence and child abuse; The amicable return of Abducted children is the best solution; I will obey the laws of the United States

Offline LukieD

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 10:07:11 AM »
 It’s a natural reaction among LBPs to think that moving the issue of IPCA from State to the DOJ solves all the problems, but it won’t. Both departments have involvement with IPCA cases and both have a lot of room for improvement. The Hague Convention is a civil treaty, whether we like it that way or not. Sure, sometimes laws were broken in the process of an abduction to a Hague country and pursuing criminal remedies is always an option but as many LBPs know, this can sometimes complicate a Hague case. My point is that the Hague Convention should work better and LBPs shouldn’t need to go the criminal route if they have confidence in the treaty. There are many clear cut abduction cases where no U.S. law was broken. That does not make the need for the return of the child any less urgent.
If your child is abducted to a non-Hague country then by all means, criminal remedies through the DOJ is your only hope but even if that’s the case, our State Dept has a responsibility, through diplomacy, to work these cases as well. The DOJ is not going to improve compliance with the Hague – that’s not their job. The Hague Convention is a reciprocal treaty dependent upon country to country relations. If our State Dept had more tools to sanction countries with poor track records then perhaps compliance would improve and so would the number of children returned. Don’t get me wrong, the DOJ needs to start taking IPCA more seriously and being more aggressive in prosecuting cases – there’s no doubt about that – but you simply can’t transfer responsibility for IPCA cases to the DOJ when the principal mechanism for securing the return of children internationally is a civil treaty which more and more countries are joining every year. We have to find a way to make the treaty work better.

Offline LukieD

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 10:37:30 AM »
One more thing to add to this discussion. The Senate hearing should have been a joint hearing with both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Someone from DOJ should have been there to testify. You can't go down this path of discussing prevention measures without DOJ's involvement. The Senate should have thought about this ahead of time and now it's a missed opportunity.

I'm all for strengthening HR 3212 but we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and there's a lot of good in that bill, as it stands. My fear is that if we go trying to add a long list of other items to the bill then the political reality is that it will be dead on arrival. HR 3212 took 4 years to pass the House and was watered down considerably from its original draft. I don't see why the Senate can't pass HR 3212 with minimal changes and look to draft its own child abduction prevention bill. That would probably need to originate in the Senate Judiciary Committee, or through a joint effort between Judiciary and Foreign Affairs.

Offline coachk

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2014, 11:46:50 AM »
lukied - i sent you a PM

Offline rmakielski

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2014, 05:01:41 PM »
You are right moving IPCA from DOS to the DOJ does not solve all the problems. But, DOS has neither authority to make the determination of criminality nor the authority to enforce. Since cases are different, it would be nice to have the DOJ do the vetting as opposed to spending thousands of dollars to have judge come to the same conclusion under a civil proceeding. LBPs should have a clear understanding of what their options are and those options should not be convoluted under an ambiguous DOS role. Additionally, once criminal charges are filed the abducted child is afforded a new set of rights. Any good parent would make the rights of their children priority over a political agenda.
Whatever good that is in the HR3212 it will not apply or help my case. Better reporting will not bring my children home and I cannot wait years to see if the report on Dominican Republic will ever meet the standard for non-compliance as specified on the Bill. Even if DR is deemed non-compliant, nothing binds the POTUS to take one the actions. With the current political climate, the DR will likely reject such a report and kick the DEA out of the country if any sanction is imposed. I am 99% sure the POTUS is going to place a higher priority on the war on drugs over one of the discretionary actions. I believe LBPs would have a better chance getting sanctions by petitioning the POTUS to write an executive order.
 
If OCI's figures are in question, there cannot possibly be a valid peer reviewed study to support such a “natural reaction” comment. Why spend 6 million (stated in the CBO) per year on OCI and consular affairs when there is such dissatisfaction with the present performance. It just does not make sense. Unless there is some other hidden agenda, why anyone would want this Bill “as is” while complaining about OCI.
I place the my children rights above my own; Children have the right to have a relationship with both parents; I stand against domestic violence and child abuse; The amicable return of Abducted children is the best solution; I will obey the laws of the United States

Offline LukieD

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2014, 09:56:39 PM »
 I understand your frustration with the Hague and the DOJ but I also think you’re giving DOS an easy out by saying they don’t have any authority in IPCA cases. They don’t have any authority with regard to violation of criminal statutes – that’s true, but I would not be so quick to give Ambassador Jacobs a pass on this issue. DOS is the foreign policy arm of the government of the United States. They absolutely have authority to insist that other governments comply with international treaties. Ambassador Jacobs is our most senior diplomat on the issue of IPCA – she speaks directly for the administration and the Secretary of State. Did you hear what Jacobs said when asked about this very question at the Senate hearing last week? She stated that she finds it helpful when she can visit other governments and tell them that the US Congress cares about this issue and therefore they should too. She then claimed that the mere mention of interest on the part of the US Congress has led directly to the return of abducted children. If she’s being honest, can you imagine the impact of a bill which she could then use to warn countries of the negative consequences if they fail to return our abducted children? I don’t agree that a country like the DR will just thumb its nose at the US and refuse to comply. They need us more than we need them. When push comes to shove and money is on the line they will start complying with the treaty better. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what happened with human trafficking after the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 became law. Just the threat of sanctions alone led to many countries cleaning up their act on that issue. It’s well documented and there’s no reason it can’t also work with IPCA.

As for the weaknesses in the current bill, the political reality is that not all good ideas are going to survive the political process in Washington DC. HR 3212 took four years to work its way through the House and was watered down considerably in the process. I agree with some of the shortcomings you mention, but if you think a perfect bill (meaning one that does everything we'd like to see on the issue of IPCA) will ever makes its way through both houses of Congress you’re going to be waiting a lot longer than four years. I’d rather have a less-than-perfect bill that does some good than no bill at all. Once momentum is created on this issue there’s a better hope for future bills and amendments to strengthen existing law. The DOJ might even take its cue from this legislation and get serious about prosecuting IPCA cases. In my opinion, the question we should be asking ourselves is a simple one, namely whether this bill will help bring more abducted children home. I happen to think it will.
 

Offline rmakielski

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2014, 01:22:06 PM »
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 makes use of an inter-agency task force, provides prevention measures through education, provides benefits and services to victims, promulgates regulations for law enforcement immigration and DOS, and strengthens prosecution and punishment of traffickers. Not to mention there is some binding language on the POTUS actions (one word can make a world of difference). Overall, HR3212 looks very weak compared to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
Maybe the best solution for those that support an “as is” Bill is to call it what it is: The “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Reporting and Discretionary Action Act of 2013”.
I place the my children rights above my own; Children have the right to have a relationship with both parents; I stand against domestic violence and child abuse; The amicable return of Abducted children is the best solution; I will obey the laws of the United States

Offline LukieD

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2014, 04:09:34 PM »
The TVPA was undoubtedly stronger in its original form than HR 3212 but in many respects, the reauthorization history of the TVPA is more important than comparing the initial bills. As you know, much of the original language on presidential actions in HR 3212 was changed from "shall" to "may," meaning the actions are optional for the president. That was a big disappointment for all of us but again, part of the political reality of what it takes to get a bill through the House, or either chamber for that matter. The political climate also meant that there could be no significant new spending in the bill which made it even more difficult to pass meaningful legislation. For example, there was a provision in the original bill which would have created a new Ambassador-at-large position to work these cases more effectively but that was later scrapped, mostly for cost reasons.

On the issue of the optionality of the presidential actions/penalties, the TVPA works the same way. The president has the option to waive the sanctions and he has, in fact, done so on a number of occasions (see story below) but by most accounts, the deterrent factor still works and while compliance might be better if the sanctions were mandatory, the legislation has been largely effective in combating child trafficking.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/29/the-failure-of-the-white-house-to-enforce-threaten/?page=all

If you look at the history of the TVPA, you'll notice that subsequent reauthorizations allowed for new measures which later strengthened the bill on a number of occasions (see link below). There's no reason the same can't happen on the issue of IPCA. That is the point I've been trying to make. We have to start somewhere.

http://endslaveryandtrafficking.org/fy2014/Relevant-Authorization-Statutes.php

I do respect your point of view on this issue and I think this is a worthwhile discussion to have on this forum. I also wish there was more we could do do help with your case. I can only imagine the frustration of feeling that the bill falls short of providing anything useful to your situation.


Offline rmakielski

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Re: Senate Hearing
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2014, 06:29:47 PM »
I am providing a response to some of the comments one piece at a time.
 “It’s a natural reaction…” is an assumption, a fallacy, a great disappointment, and insulting. Only after careful review, I found the Bill will do nothing to help my case and bring my children home. In my case, a solution that leverages the authority of the DOJ, as opposed to placing accountability on a powerless DOS, is a logical conclusion. I am sure there are other cases that that have similar facts to justify the same conclusion. My reaction changed several times on each reading of the Bill, none fit the assumed “natural reaction”.
The exaggeration of “….solves all the problems…” is putting words in my mouth, and I never said or implied those words.
It looks like an attempt to reconstruct my argument it in an extreme embellishment that clearly is inaccurate. The exaggeration of my comments infers a biased agenda rather than a healthy debate or discussion of the facts.
As in one of the panelist testimony, the reality of DOJ involvement in cases is that if the AG prosecuted just 2 cases of criminal child abductions per year, that would not only resolve some of the most egregious fact cases that actually have a basis under US law, and deter future would-be abductors from taking such actions, but it would also provide a huge incentive for parties involved in wrongful retention and foreign jurisdiction cases to reach an amicable resolution. 
Certainly not “fixing all problems” but achieving positive results for all categories of cases and that benefits way more American families than just adding to the ever-growing DOS unresolved caseload.
I question, why my comments are exaggerated and why the opposition to the DOJ?
“…sure sometimes laws were broken in the process…” is an attempt to dismiss the rule of law.
Ironically, that’s the exact same position and attitude that criminal abductors take in order to justify their actions after the fact. It also excuses fruit of the poisonous tree, which complicates a Hague case (often used in the Article 13 defense). Isn’t there any ‘personal’ outrage on the criminal abduction cases?  Why treat them so casual and under-play their legal bases?
If the ignoring the rule of law can be justified, then a reciprocal statement using the same rationale holds true as well;
"Sure sometimes LBP’s have made bad decisions and place their children at risk leading to lost custody and access to their children, but we can’t legislate for carelessness."
For the arguments in defense of HR 3212... “ My point is the Hague treaty should work better….” 
A treaty that has a 73% failure rate for American petitions for child returns, should work better. Where is the part of this bill that improves The Hague?
A mandate for more reporting on The Hague between DOS and Congress is not attempt at Hague improvement. It is highly unlikely there will be a change of even just a few words in the Hague treaty. (maybe that’s where to focus some sincere efforts to really improve the Hague and not just float that statement out there)
Here’s why that is just a false promise to left behind parents.
1) it focuses more attention on DOS and Hague, both of which fail most parents
2) it will take DOS OCI workers away from resolving and preventing cases, and force them to spend a bigger part of their days meeting the new reporting requirements: a greater net loss to LBPs
3) it will cost taxpayers a great deal of dollars that could be spent on resolving and preventing cases ($6 Million Per Year)
4) We already have the annual Hague Compliance report! Why not just enhance that existing report?
5) We already have the annual Human Rights report! (that includes reporting on IPCA)
The Grayson amendment is a great aspect. But that exact language was already inserted into a bill that passed in 2008. The Bill replicates existing laws and reporting at a cost of $6 million dollars per year. Why so adamantly defend this bill “as-is”? Can’t we find better uses for $6 million a year on IPCA? Why not at least spend the money on Ernie Allen’s recommendations. His expertise on IPCA surpasses any other witness.
I place the my children rights above my own; Children have the right to have a relationship with both parents; I stand against domestic violence and child abuse; The amicable return of Abducted children is the best solution; I will obey the laws of the United States