India not yet ready to sign the Hague treaty

The News

  • The government is not yet ready to sign the Hague treaty on inter-country abduction of children by parents fleeing a bad marriage.

 

News Summary

About Hague Convention:

  • 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 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.

 

India’s case

  • Not signing convention and appointment of committee:
    • There has been immense pressure from the U.S. on the government to sign the treaty though the government has long held the view that the decision could lead to harassment of women escaping marital discord or domestic violence.
    • While the government had decided in late 2016 that it will not sign the Hague treaty, later it appointed a panel to prepare a report indicating that there was some rethinking within the government on the matter.
    • A committee constituted by the Centre to examine legal issues involved in international parental abduction submitted its report, opposing a central provision of the Hague Convention.
  • Committee’s recommendations:
    • It said that the criterion of habitual residence of the child, which is used to determine whether the child was wrongfully removed by a parent as well as to seek the return of the child to the country of habitual residence, was not in the best interest of the child.
    • It also recommended setting up of a Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority to act as a nodal body to decide on the custody of the child as well as a model law to deal with such disputes.
  • Government’s approach:
    • However, the government is contemplating assigning the National Commission for Protection of Children the responsibility to adjudicate on such cases along with a judicial expert.
    • Since signing of convention is a political decision so not a single ministry can take decision hence inter-ministerial level input is needed.

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