Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Jamaica clamping down on spiteful parents who abduct children and run off

Published:Thursday | October 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Little Courtney Greaves (left) performs an item from cultural icon Louise Bennett at the Caribbean Meeting on International Child Protection at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.
Courtney Greaves (left) speaks with Justice Lawrence O'Neil, associate chief justice, Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Canada at the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Meeting on International Child Protection at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in St Andrew yesterday.

Jamaican authorities are cracking down on the practice of one parent abducting a child and moving away with him or her as an act of spite against the other parent.

Problems and solutions surrounding the matter have been items of discussion since yesterday during a two-day Caribbean Meeting on International Child Protection at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel in St Andrew.

Since February last year, Jamaica signalled its commitment to the speedy return of children to their habitual residence after abduction when it acceded to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction.

The two-day Caribbean meeting serves as a platform to bring judges, law enforcers and other stakeholders up to speed with provisions of the convention.

Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) - the entity leading the multiagency mission - insisted yesterday that both parents have the right to play their roles as mother or father.

"Whatever decisions are made should be joint. Both parents have equal rights to the child. Unless the court rules otherwise, then both have a right to a presence in their children's lives," she stated.

"We do see some of those cases where parents send a child overseas for holidays and they don't come back. It could also be a case where they send them to Jamaica and the Jamaican parent withholds them here. With Hague, it is a speedier process. We have [process those cases] in six weeks, and we have designated Hague judges that would see those cases."

The meeting is being attended by representatives from Latin America, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.




"It is very important that we have these kinds of dialogue and talks, to get other countries to accept us, so we can engage in the process of returning him or her, once a child is abducted from overseas and brought to Jamaica or [vice versa]," Gage-Grey said.

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green emphasised the importance of having the framework in order to return displaced children home.

"Unfortunately, in matters of custody of children, one party may not be happy with a situation, and, therefore, takes the child away to another jurisdiction, where they believe they will have a greater chance at success or in the hope that the other parent will give up on the prospects of getting back the child. As a country, we have to put things in place," Green told The Gleaner.

"Normally, there would not have been an automatic return of the child. Oftentimes, people will wonder who they should turn to. If that happens, the CPFSA is where you should turn."