For over a decade the Department of State has largely ignored the issue of international parental kidnapping.
From State Department attorney Tom Johnson, also the parent of an internationally kidnapped child, “The (State) Department’s bad faith is especially evident with regard to this point, since Congress itself estimated there to be 10,000 abducted American children abroad when it passed the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act. Congress knows that even the State Department admits to 500 to 1000 new cases annually, and Congress knows that the National Center’s estimate is up to 17,000 per year. These numbers include both Hague and non-Hague cases, but nevertheless indicate the extent of the Department’s attempt to mislead Congress with a report of only 58 unresolved cases.”
SOURCE: Johnson, Thomas A. 2000. The Hague Child Abduction Convention: Diminishing returns and little to celebrate for Americans. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 33 (1): 125-178. http://goo.gl/mz3t8
The Department of State suffers from a severe conflict of interest – they view their primary role as maintaining relations with foreign countries, often referring to foreign governments as their “Clients”. By its very nature, the child kidnapping issue is “disruptive” to the relations between the U.S. and countries which support abduction.
Through a series of sleights of hand, the State Department actively attempts to downplay, minimize and cover up the number of abductions and the true severity of their failure to address the issue.
As an example, for over a year the Department of State has neglected to update the number of children kidnapped to Japan http://goo.gl/Gxu48 - one of the top abduction countries in the world, and the only G7 country which has continually refused to join an international treaty on the prevention of International Child Abduction. Not to mention that the official count provided by the Department of State is constantly called into question [ http://goo.gl/q234a AND http://goo.gl/YQ4uP ], and that the State Department continues to publicly manipulate the numbers [ http://goo.gl/fMxcI ].
Also, the Department of State continues to treat the issue of kidnapped children as a “custody” issue, despite the fact that it is both a crime [ custodial inference and/or kidnapping at the state-level AND a violation of the IPKA at the federal-level ] and a human-rights abuse [ per Congress, per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child http://goo.gl/wbGKf, and even per then First Lady, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton http://goo.gl/a0TRg ]
The State Department completely refuses to call out major offense countries, such as Japan, for violating the human rights of children, attacking U.S. sovereignty, and abdicating their responsibility to the International community.
The State department is also stopping approval for *any* attempts to extradite parental kidnappers from certain “allied” countries – Japan being the most prominent example. This is a direct violation of federal code:
SOURCE: EXTRADITION TREATIES INTERPRETATION ACT of 1998 (Note 18 USC 3181)
“SEC. 203. INTERPRETATION OF EXTRADITION TREATIES.
“For purposes of any extradition treaty to which the United States is a party, Congress authorizes the interpretation of the terms ‘kidnaping’ and ‘kidnapping’ to include parental kidnapping.”
Using the example of Japan, the Department of State repeats Japan’s claim that parental abduction is “not a crime”. However, Japan has arrested numerous parents for attempted “child abduction” – most famously Christopher Savoie in 2009. This is something that is admitted on the State Department’s own website: http://goo.gl/JJkYa
Since the State Department acknowledges that Japan has arrested parents for “kidnapping”, how can they continue to repeat the farcical claim that such an act is not illegal in Japan?!
In addition, Japan ratified the UN CRC in 1994. This UN human rights treaty states in article 11 that international kidnapping (specifically including Parental Kidnapping) is a crime. Further, Japan’s constitution clearly states in article 98 that “the treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed” [ http://goo.gl/OeauR ]. So the State Department is simply choosing the path of least conflict by refusing to call Japan out; and doing so at the expense of U.S. parents and U.S. children.
Finally, as stated above, congress has already addressed this issue of disparity in the EXTRADITION TREATIES INTERPRETATION ACT of 1998: http://goo.gl/vHNlY
So why is the Department of State violating federal law and continuing to block any attempts at extradition from the country of Japan? Why is the Department of State refusing to publicly condemn these human rights abuses against U.S. citizens and attacks on U.S. sovereignty?
These are precisely the type of actions needed to bring this issue of protecting U.S. children to head, and force a resolution between the two countries. The disfunction of foreign courts should not impede attempts to take appropriate legal actions consistant with U.S. federal code that would highlight these issues. Nor should the Department of State cower from its duty to protect U.S. children by publicly calling out countries which are guilty of this human rights offense.
The State Department publicly meets with, and offers assistance to, Japanese nationals with family members abducted to North Korea – yet turns its back on U.S. parents. STATE also publicly condemns North Korea for the human rights violations the the North Korean abductions represent – Yet refuses to condemn Japan for supporting the abductions of the thousands of children taken to, or held in, Japan. Japan in turn, uses this contradiction by the Department of State to justify its hypocrisy: http://bit.ly/JAcowX
Why does the State Department seem to have such woefully misplaced loyalties? And why are they being allowed to violate U.S. Federal Law?
And what are the members of Congress going to do about it? Because right now, Congress is sitting on their hands as the Department of State sells out U.S. children.
*I recommend that you also read my post: Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers