WODC research International Child Abduction

UCERF researches have conducted research into International Child Abduction in collaboration with the DSP-groep. It concerned a process analysis and a comparative legal study of the current procedure of incoming applications of international child abduction as commissioned by the Ministry of Security and Justice. In late October, the research report ‘International child abduction The Current procedure of incoming applications in the Netherlands, England & Wales, Sweden and Switzerland’ was presented to the House of Representatives. Click here for the complete report (in Dutch) and a summary (in English).

Annually there are approximately 50 incoming cases of international child abduction in the Netherlands. These are cases in which a child is unlawfully moved from abroad to the Netherlands. In light of (inter)national laws, the Netherlands is obliged to act with urgency in such cases. Since 2009 a number of important legislative amendments and policy changes have taken place to expedite incoming applications of international child abduction. The main changes were the changing role of the Central Authority (from legal representative to system coordinator), the concentration of jurisdiction in The Hague and the limitation of the right to appeal to cassation on a point of law. The research concerns the question whether these changes are implemented as envisaged and how the Dutch practical implementation compares to the implementation in other countries with a comparable system.

The research shows that the changes have generally been implemented as envisaged, in which it is evident that all parties endeavor to ensure that the procedure goes as well as possible for the parents and the child. However, in some respects the process can be improved, in which it is crucial that there is good coordination between the parties and that they are facilitated in their provision of services.

Improvements are possible on the following points:

  • Providing clarity about the obligations and responsibilities of the Central Authority.
  • Increasing transparency, both internally (particularly the Central Authority) and throughout the case process; on how the case is progressing and the detection of reasons for problems encountered.
  • Providing clarity about the role of the IKO-case number and the (financial) consequences for parents and professionals when the IKO-case number is missing.
  • Speeding up the duration of procedures in especially the first phase of the procedure.
  • More supervision and guidance at (involuntary) returns.

The research report will be also be published in early November by Boom Juridische uitgevers in the series Familie en Recht: M. Jonker, M. Abraham, C. Jeppesen de Boer, W. Van Rossum & K. Boele Woelki, Internationale kinderontvoering, De uitvoeringspraktijk van inkomende zaken in Nederland, Engeland & Wales, Zweden en Zwitserland. Den Haag: Boom Juridische uitgevers 2015.