Doc. 8573

6 October 1999

Abduction of children by one of the parents

Motion for a recommendation

presented by Ms Guirado and others

    This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and only expresses the views of the members who have signed it

1.       The Assembly notes that in spite of the European Convention on recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning custody of children and on restoration of custody of children and of The Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, many children of divorced or separated parents are wrongfully taken across international frontiers.

2.       The Assembly believes that this constitutes abduction even if perpetrated by one of the child’s parent.

      Very often, in the case of marriages between spouses of different nationalities, the child, even if not born in the country, automatically possesses the nationality of the country to which he or she is taken by force, which makes the restoration of custody extremely difficult.

3.       It believes that the above-mentioned European Convention, whose purpose is the restoration of child custody by means of judicial co-operation between the authorities of different countries, provides only an imperfect means of dealing with abduction, because in many countries abduction by a parent is not a crime.

4.       It is aware that child abduction is sometimes prompted by failure to respect the visiting rights of the parent who does not have custody.

      It believes that the child’s interest overrides all other considerations and that court decisions must be obeyed by both parents, especially with regard to the visiting rights of the parent who does not have custody.

5.       Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       catalogue the problems relating to child custody and abduction;

ii.       invite member states which have not yet done so to ratify the relevant existing conventions;

iii.       strengthen the role of the central authorities established by the European Convention on recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning custody of children and on restoration of custody of children and by The Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction;

iv.       adopt as quickly as possible, after seeking the opinion of the Assembly, the draft convention being drawn up on visiting rights;

v.       consider whether child abduction by parents ought to be made a crime.

Signed : 1

Guirado, Spain, SOC

Alis Font, Andorra, NR

Bartumeu Cassany, Andorra, SOC

Behrendt, Germany, SOC

Bergqvist, Sweden, SOC

Biga-Friganovic, Croatia, SOC

Clerfayt, Belgium, LDR

Davis, United Kingdom, SOC

Etherington, United Kingdom, SOC

Gross, Switzerland, SOC

Herczog, Hungary, SOC

Ruffy, Switzerland, SOC

Solonari, Moldova, SOC

Steolea, Romania, EDG

Stepová, Czech Republic, SOC

Wohlwend, Liechtenstein, EPP/CD


1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG:European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL : Group of the Unified European Left

      NR : Not registered in a group