JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Debate on the Children (Guardianship and Custody) (Amendment) Act began in the House of Representatives on November 1.
  • The Bill seeks to give effect to the Government’s decision to enact legislation to implement the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to facilitate Jamaica’s accession to it.
  • In piloting the Bill, Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said incidents of international child abductions continue to pose a serious challenge in light of the ease in international travel and the rise in divorce rates, among other factors.

Debate on the Children (Guardianship and Custody) (Amendment) Act began in the House of Representatives on November 1.

The Bill seeks to give effect to the Government’s decision to enact legislation to implement the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to facilitate Jamaica’s accession to it.

The Hague Convention aims to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries, by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.

In piloting the Bill, Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said incidents of international child abductions continue to pose a serious challenge in light of the ease in international travel and the rise in divorce rates, among other factors.

“The location, recovery and return of abducted children are made more difficult because children are sometimes removed and taken to states with different legal systems and cultural and social structures,” he noted.

The Minister informed that over the years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has received complaints in the diaspora, as well as other nationals, about the wrongful removal of Jamaican children.

Mr. Chuck said, currently, there are three active court cases in the United States (US) involving children being moved by parents between Jamaica and the US.

He added that there are also at least 10 other active cases outside of the court system, of which the Ministry is aware, involving Jamaican children being removed to or from, or being retained in the Cayman Islands, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

“Without the Convention, the process in Jamaica and elsewhere of seeking the return of these children is often long, expensive and without any guarantee of success. By becoming party to the Convention, children unlawfully brought to, or taken from Jamaica can promptly be returned to their country of habitual residence where a proper determination on custody can be made,” he said.

As of July, 2016, 95 countries were parties to the Hague Convention, including The Bahamas, United States of America, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Bill was passed in the Upper House in July.