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Subcommittee Continues Focus on International Parental Abduction

On July 16, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a hearing, “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Ensuring Accurate Numbers and Administration Action.” The hearing focused on the State Department’s efforts to comply with the provisions of the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (P.L. 113-150).

Chair Chris Smith (R-NJ) said, “I am very concerned that the State Department is failing to protect American children by not taking congressionally-mandated actions under [the Goldman Act, which] requires the secretary of State to take action against countries that refuse to cooperate in resolving the nearly 1,000 cases of American children victimized by international parental child abduction each year. These actions are based on the required report to Congress on countries that fail to cooperate on the resolution of U.S. abduction cases, and then take action based on that report. Unfortunately, the secretary’s first report to Congress is riddled with gaps, omissions, and errors that threaten to undermine subsequent U.S. action to bring the children home, as well as mislead family court judges trying to determine whether a country is safe for an American child to visit.”

The 2015 Annual Report was the first since the recently enacted Sean and David Goldman Act,” said The Honorable Susan S. Jacobs, special advisor, Children’s Issues, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State. “We compiled this report on a compressed timeline with data gathered in the months after the new law came into effect. We devoted significant effort to ensuring we included everything required in the law. We fully understand that the 2015 Annual Report does not meet all expectations. We have received valuable feedback from this subcommittee, others in Congress, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], and parents about areas that need further amplification or could be clarified with additional detail. We are committed to providing more information this year and to making future reports as effective as we can.”

The following witnesses also testified during the hearing:

  • Kelly Rutherford, co-founder, Children’s Justice Campaign;
  • Samina Rahman, mother of child abducted to India;
  • Diane McGee, mother of children abducted to Japan;
  • Randy Collins, managing director, Bring Abducted Children Home, father of child abducted to Japan; and
  • Patricia Apy, partner, Paras, Apy & Reiss, P.C.
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