Thursday, November 27, 2014

News... Press release... Law Commission recommendation to criminalise parental unlawful retention

Unfortunately the British media failed to pick up on this extremely important piece of news, which comes too late to save Emily, but would have made a huge difference at the time...

Here's the press release from Reunite International. After you read it I shall explain how it might have helped bring Emily home, it may even have changed the perceptions during the court case where I failed to prevent Emily's mother from taking her from the UK...

Press Release

Reunite International Child Abduction Centre welcomes the Law Commission’s recommendation to criminalise parental child abduction by retention.

Over the last 18 months, reunite, our Legal Working Group and our All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Abduction, have been consulting with the government to make wrongful retention a criminal offence, prosecutable and punishable on the same basis as abduction by removal, and the Law Commission's recommendations are a huge step forward in bringing about a change to legislation.

reunite's statistics indicate that approximately 40 per cent of all abduction cases are in fact wrongful retentions; ie where a parent takes a child overseas with the other parent's consent (or in accordance with a court order) but subsequently refuses to allow the child to return home at the end of the agreed or authorised period.

Whilst abduction by removal is a criminal offence, abduction by retention is not and so a large number of left-behind parents have no recourse to the criminal process or the assistance of the police, and statutory authorities are not necessarily empowered to act as they can in abduction cases.

reunite believes the impact on children and left-behind parents in a retention case is no less, nor any less deserving of criminal process, than where there is a removal.  Parental child abduction, whether by removal or retention, is recognised as a form of child abuse and causes real harm to children who potentially suffer great emotional trauma by suddenly being ripped away from all they know and being denied contact with their left-behind parent and extended family.  As the law stands at present, children who are retained outside of the UK are not offered the level of protection afforded to children in other abusive situations.

So how would this have changed things in Emily's case...?

Emily's mother strung the court along for months after the deadline of December 2008 for Emily's return to the UK with letters claiming either she or Emily were too ill to travel, and kept me from going to Russia to collect Emily and bring her home by saying "I can't guarantee Emily will be here when you come..." and "I won't sign a letter giving you permission to take Emily out of Russia..." and "I won't give you copies of our Marriage certificate and Emily's birth certificate so you cannot get a British passport for her, and I won't give you her Russian passport!"

Yet in April 2009 I got a phone call from her, saying she was coming to the house I was renting to collect possessions with the boyfriend soldier who broke us up (She later told me he had been terrified I'd found out he'd been given a promotion ban by the army and re-posted abroad for targeting married women for sport) so I rushed home and immediately called the police... refusing them entry to the house, after having received threats from him and because they'd abducted Emily.

The police arrived after they did, and she said her boyfriend had paid for her to travel for a two week holiday with him alone as a birthday present (I'll let you draw your own conclusions why and what he wanted) but that Emily couldn't come because she was "...too sick in hospital!"

Obviously my first reaction was that she was lying, and the second that if Emily was in Hospital what the hell was she doing coming for a sex holiday with him???

Anyway the police accepted their claim and told me they couldn't arrest her or her boyfriend (Who'd driven them to the airport and contributed to and encouraged the abduction) because she'd been given permission to take Emily on "Holiday" and that it was a case of unlawful retention and not a clear cut abduction...

They escorted her into the house, which I was to shortly lose having just been made redundant, which I'd explained to her, but when I wasn't looking she not only took clothes for her and Emily, but also went into a draw and took one of my old payslips, which she later used to claim in a Russian court that she should get half my wages. My claim that I'd lost my job fell on closed ears and they not only stopped me being allowed access, but stripped me of my parental rights, after which there has been no contact and no help from the FCO or anyone other than Reunite International.

You can see for yourself how if this change comes into law it would save another child, or at least allow prosecution of the perpetrators...

Chief Executive Officer of reunite, Alison Shalaby, said:

"In the interests of children, left-behind parents, and of justice, there could and should be a change to legislation so that all left-behind parents have access to the assistance of the police, the criminal process and statutory authorities to ensure the swift resolution of cases of wrongful retention.  

"We would like to thank Sir John Stanley MP and Stephen Timms MP, Co-Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Abduction, for supporting our efforts to change legislation.  We will continue working together to ensure the Law Commission's recommendations are advanced by the government and legislation is changed to better support abducted children and left-behind parents."

Stephen Timms MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Abduction said:

"Our concern around this anomaly in legislation comes in the context of a very marked increase in the number of cases of international parental child abduction in recent years.  There should be equality of treatment for what is essentially a serious criminal offence striking at the heart of family life, and in the individual interest of the left-behind parents and abducted children who are victims of retention."

I would like to thank Alison and the Reunite team for their tireless efforts to help we parents going through this nightmare, and more importantly our children who suffer so much. I would also like to thank Stephen Timms MP and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Abduction, and ask, PLEASE let this be but a first step. There is a long way still to go!

Please share links to this blog to everyone you know, and please support Reunite International, and write by all means to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Child Abduction to show that these children matter. They are our most vulnerable citizens yet our most forgotten.

Send your support
I have been working to leave a paper trail for Emily as well as trying to raise money for Reunite International. There are several ways to support both these endevours...

Please visit listen to Emily's song and watch the videos to find out more... The song can be bought from Amazon or I-Tunes by simply searching for Emily's Song by Sam Blue, and with enough dowloads we can start raising money at last for Reunite...

During December 2014 I will donate 50p for every paperback copy of my comedy novel Religious Pursuits bought during the month... here's a link to order your copy.

Every single share of these links, visit and download makes a huge difference
Thank You

Neil Winnington
@reuniteemily on Twitter 

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