Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013by Former Representative Rush Holt
Posted on 2013-12-11
HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation.
For many years, David Goldman was my constituent, so I am intimately familiar with both the case and the incredible pain and heartbreak David endured after the kidnapping of his son, Sean, by David's estranged, Brazilian-born wife who illegally took Sean back to [[Page H7650]] Brazil. I will not recount now all of the details of the five-year long ordeal David endured to secure the return of his son. What I will say is that my experience in helping him bring Sean home helped me understand that the issue of parental child abduction needs greater attention from our government.
In his efforts to get his son returned to him, Mr. Goldman at least benefited from the fact that both Brazil (where the boy was being held illegally) and the United States are parties to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention creates an international legal framework for resolving such parental kidnappings. The treaty is anything but perfect; it lacks any genuine enforcement mechanism, which means that many of these cases drag on for years, just as the Goldman case did. However, the situation is far worse for parents whose spouse kidnaps their child and returns to their country of origin when that country is not a party to the Hague Convention. In those cases, the remaining parent has virtually no recourse to secure the return of their abducted child. The bill before us seeks to change that situation.
I especially support the language in the bill that directs the Secretary of State to engage in negotiations with non-Hague signatory nations where large numbers of American children remain illegally held by the offending parent to secure their release. Seeking the creation of a bilateral memorandum of understanding to help resolve these cases is an important interim step on the road to a larger, more enduring solution. I do have concerns about the language in this bill requiring the President to impose an escalating series of sanctions against nations who refuse to address parental kidnappings of American children. In my view, the language as written could potentially interfere with the President's ability to conduct effective diplomacy on this issue. However, once this bill reaches the Senate I am sure there will be opportunities to amend it in such a fashion that it will be able to accomplish the intended goal (the return of abducted children) without permanently damaging diplomatic relations with other nations.
One thing is clear: existing American parental child abduction cases are not being resolved expeditiously, and I agree with those who argue that the United States needs to send a clear message that the status quo on this issue cannot stand. Accordingly I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.