International Child Abduction Law Change Proposed

Law Commission Recommends Amends To Legislation

24.11.2014

The current legislation regarding child abduction should be changed to close a loophole which currently means that parents who wrongfully retain their offspring do not face criminal charges, according to the Law Commission.

According to the independent body, their proposals would see offences under Section 1 of the Child Abduction Act 1984 extended to cover cases of wrongful retention of a child abroad in breach of permission given by another parent or guardian.

The Law Commission also recommends that the maximum sentences for these offences are increased from seven to 14 years’ imprisonment, in an effort to avoid what it describes as “undesirable inconsistency” between such issues and comparable kidnapping cases.

Figures from charity Reunite International suggest that 40 per cent of international child abduction cases are wrongful retentions.

These are defined as situations where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent’s consent but fails to ensure the return of the child at the end of the agreed period.