WASHINGTON: The United States has excluded Pakistan from its annual list of the countries that allow parental abduction of children, and thus recognised Islamabad’s cooperation in ending this practice.

The 2022 International Child Abduction report cited 15 countries — including India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — as demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance with the 2014 International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act.

The act ensures compliance with the 1980 Hague Convention on Inter­national Child Abduction and establishes procedures for the prompt return of children abducted to other countries.

The law recognises a child’s habitual residence as his or her legal residence but calls for legally resolving the issue. In most cases, children are removed from their places of residence without the consent of their mothers. In some cases, young girls are married against their will to prevent repatriation to the country of habitual residence.

Other nations on the list include Argentina, Austria, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Jordan, Peru, the Republic of Korea, Romania and Trinidad and Tobago.

Although Pakistan signed the Hague convention in October 2020, the 2021 US report noted that there were 17 pre-convention cases still open in Pakistan. In 2020, one pre-convention case was resolved through voluntary means, and two pre-convention cases were closed for other reasons. The 2022 report does not report any open cases in Pakistan.

The chapter on India points out that India does not adhere to any protocols with respect to international parental child abduction. During the reporting period, India continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Spec­ifically, the competent authorities in India persistently failed to work with the US State Department to resolve abduction cases.

As a result of this failure, 61 percent of requests for the return of abducted children remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average, these cases were unresolved for three yearsand five months. India was previously cited for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance in the 2015-2021 Annual Reports. In June 2021, India rejected a US proposal for a joint committee to probe child abductions.

The United Arab Emirates also does not adhere to any protocols aimed at ending international parental child abduction. During the reporting period, the United Arab Emirates continued to demonstrate a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the competent authorities in the United Arab Emirates persistently failed to work with the Department of State to resolve abduction cases.

As a result of this failure, 67 percent of requests for the return of abducted children remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average, these cas­es were unresolved for four years and five months. The United Arab Emirates was previously cited for a pattern of noncompliance in the 2018-2021 annual reports.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2022

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