Ireland works to bring home 78 children who were taken out of the country

The Justice Department is currently working to bring home 78 children who have been abducted and taken out of the country.

The figures do not include children wrongly taken, often by only one parent, to countries that are not signatories to the International Hague Convention.

Sinn Féin children’s spokesperson Kathleen Funchion said the figures are “shocking” and “unbelievable” and called for more checks at ports and airports as well as the use of technology to protect children against withdrawal from the country.

The Ministry of Justice’s Central Authority for International Child Abduction currently has 67 open cases involving 78 children who have been abducted out of the country. There are also 20 open cases involving 29 children where the minor was abducted in Ireland from another country.

The Central Authority assists parents in Ireland whose children have been taken from Ireland without their consent, to bring a case to the courts of the country where they were taken, and for the return of the children to Ireland.

To date this year, 16 children have been returned to Ireland, representing 13 cases, and eight children have been returned to other countries.

“Worrisome” figures

Ms Funchion said the number of children who have been abducted out of the country this year and in 2020 is concerning, given that there were restrictions on international travel for long periods of time.

“There are questions around responsibility. How exactly did they manage to leave the country and what was done in terms of follow-up? How did we not improve our systems?

There must be much more important checks at airports, as far as children are concerned.

“I don’t think anyone would mind having to answer a few more questions or do a few more checks if they thought it would protect other children,” she said.

In 2020, the Central Authority received 25 incoming requests and made 48 outgoing requests. Some 43 children were returned to Ireland, representing 28 cases, and 22 children were returned from Ireland to other countries, representing 16 cases.

These figures are similar to those before Covid. In 2019, the Central Authority received 34 incoming requests and made 49 outgoing requests. Some 20 children were returned to Ireland and 21 children were returned from Ireland to other countries.

In 2018, the Central Authority received 33 incoming requests and made 54 outgoing requests. That year, 29 children were returned to Ireland and 18 were returned from Ireland to other countries.

Since 2018, the Authority has intervened in cases where children have been taken from Ireland to 37 signatory countries of the 1980 Hague Convention. This includes the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Belarus. , Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine and the United States.

The Justice Department has confirmed that when children are taken from Ireland to countries that have not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention – which establishes protocols for the return of children illegally displaced across international borders – the Central Authority is unable to help and has no data on rates of return in these cases.

“It’s actually shocking to think, even though there is no legal obligation or state responsibility, surely there is some sort of moral obligation to try to help parents whose the children have been taken away, ”Ms. Funchion said.

At the very least, it would be helpful if they had the data.

“That number could be anything, it could actually be a lot worse than 78, it could be double for everything we know. At least if we had that information, it could be of use to people who are in these. situations and might be able to talk to others who have gone through similar processes. “

A spokesperson for the ministry said parents whose children have been relocated against their will to countries outside the Hague Convention are encouraged to seek consular assistance from the embassy, ​​consulate or mission. diplomatic service of their children in or closest to the country where the children have been displaced. help.

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