The Convention on the Civil Aspects of the International Abduction of Children (the Hague Convention), which was absorbed into Israeli law via the Hague Convention (Return of Abducted Children) Law, 5751 – 1991, was designed to ensure that a child who has been taken by one of his/her parents to a foreign country without the consent of the other parent, also known as the remaining parent, shall be returned to the country where he/she resides as speedily as possible.
The principle underlying the Convention and the Law is the return of the child to his/her natural place of residence from which he/she was unlawfully taken, as speedily as possible.
This objective is consistent with the welfare of the child in that the abduction of a child from his/her natural place of residence is bad for his/her welfare. Another principle is the observing of the international enforcement of custody rights between the signatory states to the Convention.
In accordance with this principle, the purpose of the Law is to ensure that the custody of children who have been abducted by one of the parents shall be determined only by the court in the child's permanent place of residence. Accordingly, as a rule, the court in the country to which the children have been abducted shall arrange for them to be returned to their country of habitual residence as soon as possible.
The Hague Convention on the Return of Abducted Children applies when two cumulative conditions are fulfilled:
- The country from which the child is abducted is a signatory to the Hague Convention;
- The child who was abducted is under the age of 16 on the date of his/her abduction;
The Department of International Affairs, with the consent of the Attorney General, is the Central Authority with regard to the Hague Convention on the Return of Abducted Children. The Department deals with requests from Israeli parents whose children have been abducted to other countries by the other parent, or have not been returned at the end of a consented vacation, as well as with incoming requests from parents whose children have been abducted to Israel from various countries by the other parent. Furthermore, in certain cases the Department also deals with requests concerning the enforcement of visitation arrangements between parents living in different countries.
Within the framework of its work in this field, the Department of International Affairs maintains contact with other central authorities worldwide. Likewise, the Department is required to coordinate between the various government ministries involved in the field, among them the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the welfare authorities as well as with the Israel Police and specifically, the Interpol Unit.
The Department also deals with the criminal element of a child's abduction by his/her parent, accompanies the Police investigation and makes decisions regarding the issue of prosecuting the abducting parent. When necessary, and subject to the court's request, the Department provides the court with a legal opinion regarding the interpretation and implementation of the Convention.
For a list of signatories to the Hague Convention on the Return of Abducted Children click here.
For assistance in case of abduction to Israel click here.
For assistance in case of abduction from Israel click here.