Minister Shatter releases figures on cases dealt with by Central Authority for Child Abduction in 2010

The Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Mr Alan Shatter T.D., today released the 2010 figures on cases dealt with in his Department by the Central Authority for Child Abduction. The key figures are:-

  • The Central Authority for Child Abduction processed a total of 233 cases in 2010. 140 of these were new cases (4 more than in 2009) while 93 were ongoing cases carried over from 2009.
  • Of the 140 new cases involving 193 children, 64 concerned abductions into the State (incoming) from other countries while 76 concerned abductions from the State (outgoing) to other countries. Of the 93 cases still active from the previous year, 53 were incoming and 40 outgoing.
  • During 2010, therefore, a total of 117 incoming cases and 116 outgoing cases were being processed by the Irish Central Authority in liaison with the other national Central Authorities involved.
  • Of the 140 new applications received by the Irish Central Authority in 2010, 39% (54) involved the United Kingdom; 11% (15) involved Latvia; 9% (13) involved Poland; 24% (34) involved other European countries and 17% (24) other contracting states (i.e. USA; Canada; Australia; S. Africa).


The majority of applications were made under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and Brussels II Bis Regulation while a smaller number of applications were made under the Luxembourg Convention.

The Central Authority was established on foot of the Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991. This Act gave the force of law in Ireland to the Hague and Luxembourg Conventions on child abduction. The purpose of these Conventions is to facilitate the return of children who have been taken from one contracting state to another against the wishes of a parent with custody rights.  There is provision for a custody or access order granted in one contracting state to be recognised or enforced in another contracting state.  There can also be circumstances where, under Article 13 of the Hague Convention, a State is not bound to order the return of a child -  for example, where there is a grave risk the child’s return would expose it to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place it in an intolerable situation; if it is found the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of the child’s views. Certain qualifying provisions under the Luxembourg Convention and the Brussels II bis Regulation may also have to be taken into account.`

On release of the figures the Minister said "the figures published today starkly illustrate that it is important at times of family conflict that estranges spouses and estranged parents seek to resolve differences by agreement, through mediation or as a last resort by way of court proceedings and do not unilaterally remove children from the country of their habitual residence.

Parental child abduction not only greatly exacerbates family conflict but also prolongs family disputes and in the overwhelming majority of cases is contrary to the welfare of the children concerned it can also result in unnecessary legal expenses being incurred. Despite the existence of international conventions and European council regulations addressing this issue international child abductions of children by parents is a growing problem. This is an issue that I intend to place on the agenda for discussion of EU Justice Ministers."

-Further information on the 2010 caseload and on the relevant Conventions and Regulations is attached.

 

 Irish Central Authority on Child Abduction Cases being processed each year 

 

Breakdown of cases with the Irish Central Authority in 2010

The combined total of 233 applications (140 new, 93 ongoing from previous year) being dealt with by the Irish Central Authority in 2010 were made under the relevant international instruments as follows:

  • 117 were made under the Hague Convention;
  • 30 under the Brussels II bis Regulation;
  • 46 under the Hague Convention and the Brussels II bis Regulation;
  • 1 under the Luxembourg Convention and the Brussels II bis Regulation;
  • 3 under the Hague Convention and the Luxembourg Convention,
  • 36 under the Hague Convention, the Brussels II bis Regulation and the Luxembourg Convention.



Incoming cases, i.e. abductions into the State from other countries (117): - 

In 10 of the 117 incoming cases the High Court ordered the return of the children;
in 4 cases the Court refused the return of the children; in 14 cases the children were either returned voluntarily or the parties reached an agreement, 50 cases were awaiting resolution at the end of the year.

Outgoing cases, i.e.  abductions from the State to other countries (116): -

In 15 of the 116 outgoing cases foreign courts ordered the return of the children; in 6 cases the foreign court refused the return of the child and in 9 cases the children were either returned voluntarily or the parties reached an agreement, 50 cases were awaiting resolution at the end of the year.


 

Status of Cases at 31 December 2010 

Incoming

Outgoing

Total

Court Order return

10

15

25

Court Refused return

4

6

10

Voluntary return/Settled by consent

14

9

23

Withdrawn

17

20

37

Judicial order for return by consent

-

2

2

Awaiting Resolution

50

50

100

Application Refused by Central Authority

1

7

8

Access order registered

5

1

6

Court Order refused return/Access Order registered

1

-

1

Special Guardianship Order under Article 39

1

-

1

Article 55 assistance given

9

-

9

Proceedings struck out

3

-

3

Settled by consent/child not returned

1

1

2

Settled by consent/access arrangements

1

5

6

Totals

117

116

233

 

 

Geographical Spread of the 140 New Applications Received in 2010 

Country

Incoming

Outgoing

Total

     

Australia

5

3

8

Austria

-

1

1

Belgium

1

-

1

Bulgaria

-

1

1

Canada

3

3

6

Cyprus

1

-

1

Czech Republic

4

-

4

England & Wales

14

27

41

Estonia

1

-

1

France

-

3

3

Germany

3

2

5

Greece

-

1

1

Isle of Man

-

1

1

Jersey

-

1

1

Latvia

14

1

15

Lithuania

2

-

2

Netherlands

2

-

2

Northern Ireland

2

3

5

Norway

1

-

1

Poland

5

8

13

Romania

1

1

2

Scotland

-

6

6

Slovakia

1

1

2

South Africa

-

3

3

Spain

-

2

2

Sweden

-

2

2

Turkey

-

1

1

Ukraine

-

2

2

USA

4

3

7

Totals

64

76

140

 

 

 Irish Central Authority on Child Abduction Cases New Applications 2010 - Geographical Spread 

 

 

Number of New Child Abduction Applications Received by the Irish Central Authority 1991 - 2010 

October 1991 - December 1992

42

1993

73

1994

90

1995

101

1996

87

1997

99

1998

92

1999

73

2000

71

2001

65

2002

72

2003

66

2004

70

2005

94

2006

111

2007

99

2008

141

2009

136

2010

140

Total New Applications

1,722

 

 

Number of Children Subject to Child Abduction Proceedings with the Irish Central Authority, 1991 - 2010 

October 1991- December 1992

80

1993

125

1994

151

1995

184

1996

153

1997

164

1998

159

1999

118

2000

114

2001

96

2002

112

2003

99

2004

97

2005

154

2006

160

2007

155

2008

183

2009

183

2010

193

Total Number of Children

2,680

 

Child Abduction Conventions and Regulations

Information Note

  1. The Conventions and the Regulation relating to the abduction and custody of children provide for the establishment of a Central Authority in each "contracting state" that is a party to them, including Ireland, to administer the various procedures involved.
  2. The Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 (which came into operation on the 1st of October 1991) gives force of law to the following two international conventions:-
  • The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which is designed to ensure the immediate return of children who have been removed from one contracting state to another - usually by a parent in defiance of the wishes of the other parent. It is based on the principle that the custody of a child should be decided by courts in the state in which the child habitually resides. There are 84 states parties to the Hague Convention.
  • The European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children (commonly known as the Luxembourg Convention) which is designed to ensure that custody and access orders granted in one contracting state are recognised and enforced in other contracting states.  Recognition and enforcement disputes usually arise when one parent removes a child from one state to another in defiance of a court order granting custody or access rights to the other parent.
  1. The European Council Regulation (2201/2003) Concerning Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Matrimonial Matters and Matters of Parental Responsibility (commonly known as Brussels II bis) complements the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction by enhancing the role of the country of habitual residence and by enabling speedier resolutions of such cases. The Regulation applies to abductions between EU member states, as well as to the procedures for the recognition and enforcement of other types of orders relating to children.
  2. Under Article 13 of the Hague Convention, a State is not bound to order the return of a child in some circumstances, e.g. where there is a grave risk the child’s return would expose it to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place it in an intolerable situation. Certain qualifying provisions under the Luxembourg Convention and the Brussels II bis Regulation may also have to be taken into account

 

Further information can be found at:

(A) – The Department of Justice and Equality Website - http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/International_child_abduction
(B) – The Hague Conference on Private International Law Website - 
http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=2