Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.

The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.

The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.

The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.

As of May 2017, 97 states are party to the convention. In 2016, Philippines and Pakistan acceded to the convention.

India Refused to Sign this Convention:

Union government has decided that India will not ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980).

The decision was taken by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and has been agreed to by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The government’s view is contrary to the recommendations given by the Law Commission, which endorsed acceding to the Hague convention.

The Law Commission has in its March 2009 report titled ‘Need to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 2009’ advised that the Union government should be a signatory to the treaty.

The Indian government’s refusal to ratify the Hague convention centers on the argument that in most cases, it is the mother — often a victim of domestic abuse — who returns to India with the child (considered an act of “abduction” under the convention). And so adhering to the treaty would be tantamount to victimizing women who are trying to escape a bad marriage.

A report by India’s  Law Commission shows that 68 percent of the parents who took their child away were mothers, where 85 percent of these mothers are the primary caregivers of their children across the globe.

WCD Ministry stated that signing it would be to the disadvantage of Indian women in that there were far more cases of Indian women escaping bad marriages abroad and returning “to the safety of their homes” in India than non-Indian women who are married to Indian men leaving India with their children, and that the majority of such cases involved women fleeing, not men.

Some Indian women who left the U.S. with their children have claimed that they and/or their children were subjected to routine, psychologically traumatic abuse by their husbands and in-laws. When they made complaints to the authorities, either no action was taken, they were forced to move into shelters, or their children were removed by child protective services.