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tv   House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Child Abduction  CSPAN  December 13, 2018 4:53am-6:41am EST

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war. around 1850s. and it drew a lot of people in on both sides of the slavery issue. lawrence was burned in 1856 because it was the headquarters of the free state movement. on saturday you will hear from local authors as we hear about the history of lawrence. and then sunday it two p.m. on america's three tv you will hear about local historic sites and the robert dole museum to hear about the life of this long serving senator from the state. the c-span cities tour in cooperation with our cable partners around the country exploring the american story. coming up at 9:30 a.m. eastern, discussion with white house john bolton, on the trump administration's new africa strategy. live coverage from the heritage foundation, here on c-span 3.
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in the afternoon we had capitol hill for a hearing on oversight of nonprofit organizations and restrictions to their political activities. at is live, thursday at 2 p.m. on c-span 3. a house foreign affairs subcommittee held a hearing to examine international child abduction. the committee heard from three parents whose children had been abducted. the parents detail the steps they had taken in hopes that their children would be returned to them in the us. this is an hour 45 minutes. the committee will come to order and first of all i will thank you for joining us this afternoon to discuss the continuing crisis of parental
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child abduction and how the trump administration can and must use current law, especially the tools embedded in the goldman act more aggressively bring children home to their families. i especially want to thank the brave left behind parents in this room and others who are here in spirit for tenaciously struggling to recover their child or children from an action. the deleterious physical and psychological impact on abducted children including parental alienation, coupled with the pain and agony endured by a left behind parent, from a forced illegal and in humane abduction demands more effective us government action. today, we will hear from three extraordinary parents who have left no stone unturned in a noble quest of bringing their kids home. out of the love and concern for the safety and well-being of their children, all three parents, jeffrey moorhouse,
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juan gariocia and michelle littleton continue to strive into hope and to believe. all three parents are, and as far too many others like them, daily enter the absolute nightmare of having had their beloved children kidnapped and taken to a former -- foreign land. we can and we must do better. as jeffrey moorhouse notes in his testimony today to date there have been more than 400 us children kidnapped in japan since 1994. to date, the government of japan has not returned a single american child to an american parent. he notes that the time, last time that he hugged his son, the last time that i heard his voice was father's day 2010. i love you son wherever you are, are kidnapped children's two voices, he goes on, have been left silenced and he speaks on behalf of of of there left behind parents.
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child abduction is child abuse, and continues to plague thousands of parents across the united states. each year more than 450 new children are abducted, adding to the 11,000 children who are abducted internationally between 2008 and 2017. the good news, since congress adopted the distillation that i wrote and 2014, the sean and david goldman international child abduction prevention and return act, public law, 113-150 , we have seen a huge reduction in the number of new abductions each year. in fact, 450, half of the number of just 10 years ago, according to the state department agenda report they've been working with the department of homeland security as the directed by the goldman act to protect vulnerable children from abduction.
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last year, 200 very high risk children were enrolled in the dhs prevention program, an increase of 60 percent over 2016. we have also seen some high- priced -- profile federal criminal prosecutions of taking parents and their accomplices, such as prosecution and conviction of carlos and his wife, gwenna marist, assisted in the capital lysing of their grandchildren to brazil years ago. even with the 77 countries that have partnered with the united states in the hague conditions for the enter reduction.
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every return is a hard-won celebration and should not be minimized. but every case resolved without return must be scrutinized and aggressively so. 197 cases were closed without return. did the parent agree to let the child stay abroad because they could not afford the financial or emotional cost of finding a foreign court for years on end? with a foreign court expensively leak the hague conventions so that living in apartment is a great risk of harm such as japan's courts held in the cook family case which is absurd. the hague convention was intended to minimize trauma to children and left behind parents. returning children to their home country for custody determination and to do so quickly but it's regularly flouted without consequence to the violating country.
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tragically, the state department has consistently refused, the use of return tools that are in the goldman act to enforce the hague convention in both hague and non-hague convention countries. and to move the countries to bilateral agreements with the united states. a 42 percent return rate of american children within three rates of abduction christ out for immediate and systemic improvement. we can and we must do better. the goldman act of course empowers the secretary of state with significant sanctions including the ability to withdrawal, limit or sustain economic support and assistance. to delay or cancel one or more bilateral state visit, to extradite the taking parent, which puts pressure on the parents to return the child. to come up with their own no
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actions that would have a positive affect and many other prescribed actions that are in the goldman act. to my knowledge, extradition has been used once, and the other options not at all. that has got to change. at a senate hearing on april 24 of this year. the assistant secretary of the bureau of counselor affair, karl rish testified that the state department considers all the tools, the goldman act provides for the most effective way to make progress with particular countries. however, more than 2000 cases after the goldman act was signed into law, the state department is apparently never found a single case where those tools would be helpful, not even the cases where the foreign court had decided on return, but just failed to enforce those orders. devon davenport has won all 24 appeals over the last nine
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years for the return of his daughter nadia from brazil. and yet, she is still not home. doctor braun has been waiting for five years for the return of his son nico from brazil. we have 100 american children abducted to india with almost no hope of returning to the united states without taking real action. and again, those actions are in our law. they are in the goldman act. use them, mr. president. we could also lower the number of visas available to indians innocence until abducted children are returned. when japan was finally named in noncompliant country in the trump administration's annual report, having just about doing nothing in the previous administration on japan, japan is still not held accountable for the dozens of cases that were pending before signed the hague convention in 20 2014 and jeffrey will talk about that in his testimony. but what a dark day in history
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that was. they signed the hague convention, which may be opened up the door to some cases from then on but all of the cases that preceded ratification of the hague convention are grandfathered out. marine corps sergeant michael elias suffered the abduction of his two children to japan. in 2008, after the courts in new jersey to create -- decreed shared custody and no travel for the children, japan gave the children replacement passports to facilitate the abduction. i actually traveled with my cheapest that -- chief of staff to hear his case and others. i was shocked at what we were not doing to help this combat war veteran to at least see his children and hopefully to bring his children home. i believe that the trump administration should work toward doing better. the time
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is now, danae's denial and for these three parents and so many others like them the agony is every day, every day and every day. and we need to change that and we can change that with our law. i would like to yield. >> >> thank you mr. chairman i am going to waive and reserve time later. >> okay thank you very much i would like to yield to the gentleman. >> thank you very much chairman smith for recognizing the problem that we have today and for holding this important hearing. and for allowing me to join you in your discussion and your questions. i am proud to represent michelle littlejohn and one of the three witnesses here today. mrs. littlejohn's three children, beautiful children,
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two daughters of philip, lila and yosef were abducted by her former husband to lebanon nearly 2 years ago. she has worked tirelessly to litigate their return in lebanon courts and one of the landmark decisions that has established her case to return the children. yet, she waits. i must defer to her with great respect to tell you the entire study and commend her for her great struggle. her testimony and that of the other witnesses here today say that we need to help parents work better. as you stated so openly in your opening remarks, congress passed the goldman act.
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i understand that you invited the state department to participate with us today and i must say that i'm very disappointed that we don't have any state department officials here today to testify on how we can work together to strengthen our support for the brave parents like mrs. littleton. i follow the travels and the work of our secretary of state and who clearly obviously gives his job 100 percent and i just can't tell you how disappointed that none of the other 60,000+ employees of the dog on department could not show up today and participate in this important hearing that you have called. very disappointed and maybe i may bring that to the attention of the secretary. these are doubtless despicable sick circumstances when it child abduction intersects with our foreign relations, but we must try to do better and
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chairman smith i want to thank you for holding this important hearing and allowing me to participate. >> thank you very much i would like to now introduce our three outstanding witnesses, noble parents who are fighting for their children, beginning with jeffrey moorhouse was the executive director of bring abducted children home, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the immediate return of internationally abducted children wrongfully obtained in japan. bring our children home strives to end the practice of unfettered community outreach for parental child abductions. his son, moke remains in japan despite mr. us ss more houses custody being recognized by the courts in 2007 and 2014. and the g7 kidnapped to japan
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reunification project. we will then hear from one gariocia who is the father of two boys, matteo and martin who were taken to ecuador, who were abducted to ecuador in august 2016. mr. gariocia decided to start his own independent financial advisory practice in 2004, the year matteo was born. and his practice allowed him to fulfill his commitment to spend more time with his children. previously he works for a select number of investment that banks in new york and miami and he is here today to make that appeal for his two children. we are grateful he is here. then we will hear from michelle littleton was the mother of three children, acilia, laila, and joseph , who were abducted
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to lebanon. after children's abduction, she moved from california to florida to be with the family and hired as an assistant to launch operations at the cape canaveral air force station is a contractor and then selected as an ambassador to the united launch alliance. previous to her current position she worked as a commercial real estate company but put her real estate career on hold in order to pursue and try to bring back her children. ms. littleton awaits the day when she is reunited and has rooms furnished and decorated at her home on merritt island in florida for the day they come home. esther moorhouse, the floor is yours. >> take you mr. chairman into the committee for inviting me here today to share my expertise and personal experiences on the ongoing crisis and crime of international parental child abduction in japan. japan is internationally known
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as a blackhole or child abduction. to date, as you mentioned, there have been more than 400 us children kidnapped to japan since 1994 and the government of japan has not returned a single american child to an american parent. over the years, many japanese citizens and of rituals have shared with me that they are deeply ashamed of these abductions and need help on the us and other countries to change it. they have asked for continued public foreign pressure as it gives them the support needed internally to up root this cabal of resistance in japan that continues to corrupt the family court system there. this is revealed in itself and the continuity principle or simply put judges and attorneys rep resenting abductions, and abductors and they manipulate the best interest of the child to rule that the child should remain alienated and ignored, how they ended up with the abducting parent. when japan ceded to the hague
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convention on the civil aspects of international parental child abduction and april 2014, you mr. chairman you joined us as we met with the japanese ambassador, officials at the embassy, to discuss their plans for implementation. and i remember walking out of that meeting knowing that our worst fears have been realized. they had no real plan to uphold the spirit and the intent of the hague adoption convention. it was all misdirection. it was all smoke and mirrors. but we were solved and remains true today. under article 21, and i'm quoting here, it says the central authorities are bound to promote the peaceful enjoyment of access rights, and the fulfillment of any conditions to which these, to which the exercise of those rights may be subject. the central authorities shall take steps to remove as far as
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possible, all obstacles to exercise these rights. in the first known case to pursue hague access rights in the japanese courts, canadian henrik keaton requested interim access to his children and was ignored by the court. the judge refused to provide his name therefore making accountability in his rulings impossible. no observers, no embassy officials were allowed to witness the court proceedings. 4 1/2 years later -- ago at the very moment japan ceded to the hague abduction convention, parents joined bring abduction children home to hand-deliver 30 article 21 access applications. hague was supposed to be an efficient path to see our children again. we were told at that time we must give japan time.
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we was -- must wait and see. well, we have waited and we have seen. of those 30 cases, three parents reported receiving one skype session with their children. and one reported three sessions before the kidnapping parent cut them off entirely. none of these parents have received true unfettered access to their kidnapped children. when i for ing to personally filed for access under article 21, my ex-wife responded by filing a new motion for custody in japan citing my hague application and weapon lysing it against me. i had to put my application on hold for three years. after winning my case in japan in 2017 and attempting to restart efforts for access, she has been nonresponsive. in consultation with the
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japanese central authority, the office of children's issues, is again encourage me to file an article 21 motion in the japanese courts. this is grossly flawed! as i'll state later in my testimony, japan now admits that all power to apply with court rulings rests with the kidnappers. japan's implementation of the hague abduction convention is an abysmal failure. hague return orders have failed to be enforced time and again, although it states under article 7, and i will quote again, central authorities shall cooperate with each other, and promote cooperation amongst the competent authorities in the respective states to secure the prompt return of children. the prompt return of children. it doesn't state the optional return of children. japan fails miserably here, too. the enforcement of the return orders deals every time.
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unless the kidnapping parent willingly complies. in japan, and enforcement involves an official going to the home and asking for the children to come out. well, the kidnapping parent remains inside, prompting them to stay and holding all power over theirs children. for james cook, as the chairman mentioned, he testified to the subcommittee in april, japan's courts overturned the retort order because mr. cook had moved into an apartment and had to share a bedroom with his sibling, after the enormous legal bills incurred from years and fighting in the japanese courts. he took his case all the way to the supreme court of japan. and the hague convention failed again there. laws and treaties are being ignored. mr. cook's children remain abducted with the kidnapping parent. this is just another example of japan's continuity principle at
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work, and crushes any hope of reuniting with our kidnapped children. according to my discussion with the state department, mr. cook case would now be classified as it judicial resolution, under their interpretation of the goldman act. in other words, japan gets rewarded for finding a way to avoid returning children that are kidnapped from the united states. it is another example of the -- japan's systemic hellyer to return kidnapped children, involves two japanese parents living in the united states. i point this out because it is the second time that a case involving two japanese parents received extra judicial effort, but i have not yet seen in cases involving a non-japanese parent. like in the oregon case that ended in 2016, the enforcement of the hague return order
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failed. in this new instance, a japanese form of habeas corpus petition was filed in the nog leah high court but it was not rewarded, so the father appealed to the supreme court. and they wrote four skin -- significant points in that. the child was found to be unduly controlled and influenced by the mother. the second point, therefore the child's statement was not considered to be objective. the supreme court in japan determined that the retention of the child was clearly illegal. and then, the japan supreme court remanded the case back to the naglia high court. in effect the supreme court issued an opinion, but they didn't issue a return based on
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habeas corpus. and that evolved out of this failed hague process. now in july of 2018, the high court issued a new ruling in the court, this time the child was ordered return. what the mother and the child immediately fled the court. it can be assumed that the government of japan, the courts, her attorneys and the police know exactly where the mother and the child are. but the enforcement of the return order remains to be executed. in 2014 the goldman act was signed into law, in part to create accountability for countries like japan that failed to return our kidnapped american children. multiple tools were provided, the demarsh , an official public statement, denial of cancellation of official
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meetings or state visits, withdrawal, limitation or suspension of us assistance, and a formal request to extradite the kidnapping parent. to date, only demarsh's have been issued. all other tools have been ignored. while we still don't have a single case of the government of japan returning an american child to an american parent. in april, the senate judiciary committee took this topic up at a hearing. senator booker asked are we using the tools in the goldman act beyond the marshes? the assistant secretary carl rish of counts counselor fears quoted to my knowledge and chairman grassley inquired how many have been issued since the passage of the goldman act? mr. rish, there have been many but we feel that type of
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diplomatic engagement is the key to success in these cases. senator blumenthal probed, have you used any other tools? mr. rish concedes they have not. in response to the committee's follow-up questions for the record, assistant secretary rish responded that from 20 dashes 2008, to 2015, 9127 children were kidnapped. and only 3992 were returned. there was no substantial change in the percentage in those eight years. somewhere years that went up a few points, some years it went down. if returning kidnapped children home to the united states is a key measure of success, and it is, at what point to a failure in strategy, not success. this subcommittee in april also held a hearing that examined the lack of use of the tool and at the chairman, -- hearing, chairman smith you noted that
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since 2014 we have seen a decrease in the number of new abductions, but not an increase in the percentage of returns. and you noted that in your opening statement as well. special advisor for children's issues suzanne lawrence testified and which i will quote from her, we do consider all the tools that we have at our disposal, and we do that with our interagency partners and try to use the best tool at the best moment on a case-by- case basis. we consider them when we think they will be effective. congresswoman giapol followed what would you -- mood the threshold in order to use those tools? what can we tell our families about what we're doing to differently. mrs. lawrence replied, i don't have a specific answer for you. is it literally going to take
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an act of congress and an appropriation bills to get you ramped up to the escalating sanctions that can occur in some of these countries that the state department has been unwilling to pursue? and chairman smith, you hit it right on the mark, sanctions work. if japan doesn't get it through your persuasion, and i thank you for trying so hard, it's time to lower the boom. the state department's response to those hearings was to ignore congresses call to use the tools. a comprehensive review of all four actions reports from 2015- 2018 shows a very bleak pattern. many of these countries cited are repeat offenders, yet no other tools other than a demarsh was used. japan had three to marshes in 2017 alone. and in fact other tools they
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were only mentioned one time. in the 2018 actions report, the department wrote the department is considering the use of further tools under the act if japan continues its pattern of noncompliance in failing to comply enforce convention court orders. in an open session of the diet in japan in early 2017, the japanese foreign minister at the time fumiosh takita declared there is not a single example of sanctions under the goldman act. he called them out. he called the state department's bluff. through multiple hearings in the house and senate, the state department has rejected your call, congresses calls to use the tools. clearly, demarsh's , rising
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ipca cases with foreign officials and empty threats are not bringing children home. and what are these demarsh's? what's in them? does any really -- does anyone really know? i'm still waiting for response to a foia request that our organization submitted in february. what is it going to take beyond demarsh's ? what are the interest of american children that have been kidnapped going to be put first, and when will decisive efforts be made to bring abducted children home? aced on multiple discussions with state, it is clear that japan anticipated being cited in 2018. it started at least six months in advance. there was a demarsh in november 2017 and december. japan new what was coming.
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and as japan was about to be cited for international parental child abduction by the united states, they held a public seminary at the house of culture in japan in paris, co-organized by the ministry of foreign affairs of japan and the japan bar association, federation of bar associations. an audio recording of this event from inside, we hear participant being educated about the hate -- hague abduction convention. they are taught how to prevent their children -- having their children return to front -- france, should they be taken without consent to live in japan. or simply put, the organizations layout how to abduct to japan and get away with it. by creating a seminar that advised potential abductors how to separate a hague return
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order, the government of japan has exhibited shocking and blatant disregard for this international agreement. when they were exposed and confronted by frank senator richard hume, japan's ministry of foreign affairs, they try to deflect it as a rogue act by presenter the invited. now if that were true, somebody from the japanese government staff would have immediately interrupted at the seminar and disavow their government of this. they would have denounced it right then and there, they didn't do that. because it wasn't a rogue act. it was intentional. the government of japan is a shameless co-conspirator. i will note that seminars continue to be held and there's little reason to believe that the content has changed. there was one scheduled in london and i believe there was another scheduled in new york. in june of this year, just after japan was cited by the united states, their press reported potential draft legislation to purportedly
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address the child abduction issue. this is -- was an attempt to change the narrative. they noted that there is nothing under japan's legal system to deal with parents who refused to hand over their children in defiance of the court order. the proposal on an interim report considered binding parents, to encourage them to voluntarily comply. defines involuntary compliance already exist. and they haven't solved the problem. fines can be levied, they can be imposed, but they have to be collected and substantial enough to bend a kidnappers will of defiance. that's a very narrow and unique set of circumstances. it's not a judicial or legislative reform. as this potential draft limped along, in september it was
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reported in the press the rule is now for giving more power to enforcement officers and allowing handovers to take lace in the presence of parents with custodial rights. unconditioned sufficient consideration is paid to the sentiment of the children. we have got to unpack this a little bit. it sounds good, but there are two immediate problems with it. first, the hague case has nothing to do with habitual residence. noncustodial rights of the child. or could be a parent seeking a return order that might not have sole custody. it is habitual residence that we are dealing with. second, what is it that they mean by sufficient consideration paid to the sentiment of the children? it's another loophole. what is the sentiment of a
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child going to be after they have been alienated for months or years? they are going to be filled with confusion, fear, anger, anxiety, all directed at the parent who is here to take them home. is this sufficient consideration going to dictate enforcement and still abandon, because the child appears more accustomed to living a life under duress? these are subversive efforts to give the false impression of progress in japan. it's more smoke and mirrors. the state department has put great hope in japan's potential legislation, a recent discussion i have had with them revealed that they were working on a draft from the summer. not the current legislation --
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current potential legislation, it's not even a bill yet. the current legislation according to our partners have got to the bill. and it will be completely ineffective if it's ever pass in a year or years down the road. so, don't be misled by reports in the japanese press and from the state department meetings with the government of japan, suiteãa sweeping legislative changes to improve our kidnapping crisis. japan should not be rewarded with more time to fix problems that were exposed years ago. but the kudos come after our kidnapped children are returned. in may, my colleague and i met with japanese embassy officials to try and understand is there any genuine path or japan to reunite parents with kidnapped children? the head of chancery, which i
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think is there number 2 person there, mr. takio sosayama was shockingly candid to us. he said your access depends on the mother and the child's wishes. in november, the state department met with officials in japan at the japanese central authority to again raise cases of american children kidnapped to japan and the lack of progress and failures in enforcement of judicial rulings. two weeks ago, i received a comprehensive readout from the children's issues on this and there are three points i want to share with you. japan acknowledged that one, if the parent refuses, there are no repercussions for ignoring an application for access., a return order, or a court order.
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two, enforcing a court order depends on the voluntary cooperation of the kidnapping parent. and three, the kidnapping parent knows this and they hold all the power. this is japan's new tactic. admit the problem and blame the kidnapper? we need real solutions. to the numerous clear-cut cases such as naval captain paul tolan and paul wang. though they are both the only living parent, the grandparents in japan are holding their daughters from them. their casesãas there are cases like randy collins, whose ex-wife was ordered to surrender the child's passport to the court, and instead she kidnapped him. douglas berg children were kidnapped from their habitual and legal residents in the united date in 2009, violating
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his parental rights to access. marine corps sergeant michael elias is two children were kidnapped to japan after a us court ordered no travel for those children. the list goes on and on, for far too long. all children and families crushed by the government of japan's unwillingness to uphold his moral, ethical and treaty obligations. there are thousands of cases within japan that must be remembered, too in this process. in my own case, i was granted sole custody of my son in the state of washington in may 2000 seven. three years later on june 20 2010, i dropped my son moke moorhouse off to begin a weeklong visit with his mother. he was 6 1/2 years old at the time. this is where my nightmare began. six days later i received a
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phone call that no parent ever wants to receive. it was the police. my son, my ex-wife had been reported missing. i knew immediately what had happened. she had succeeded in what she had been planning all along. she had kidnapped our son to japan. at this moment, my life had been shattered. i did everything i could to prevent this. there were passport and travel restraints in place. i had a court order that barred her from leaving the state of washington with him. the saddle consulate to japan had denied her passport request when she went there, and she simply went to the passport office at the portland consulate of japan, which issued one in violation of the ministry of foreign affairs own policy. over the years, people have said to me, things like, at
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least you know he is safe with his mother. he might be somewhere in japan, but he is not safe. he is at risk. he's been willingly and intentionally kidnapped to a foreign land with the intent of alienating him from me and everyone he knows. imagine being a small child and your mother steals you away to a foreign country and tells you that your father doesn't want you anymore or is dead. your whole life is now built on a foundation of lies. that is not what a healthy nurturing parent does. it is child abuse. in 2014 and again in 2017, i won another landmark ruling in japan. the court declared my us sole
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custody order has legal effect. my ex-wife has no legal custody rights in japan. none. they also cited her admission of illegal acts of passport fraud and forgery. there was no intent to offer justice, though. it was simply a continuity principal at work again. it doesn't matter how a child ends up with an abductor, japan will not uphold laws and treaties to return children to their rightful home. in the end, the court refused to even reunite moke and me. i don't even know where he is being held. our kidnapped children's true voices have been silenced. they need to be heard.
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in the beginning of my most recent legal battle in japan, my son, 13 at the time was asked by his attorney, do you ever think of your father? and he replied, sometimes i dream of him at night. as he cried, telling that lawyer , last time i spoke to my son, the last time i saw him was on father's day of 2010. i love you moke, wherever you are. on behalf of the 66 children listed on the back home website, and those who have all been rendered voiceless by their abductors, my fellow parents of internationally
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kidnapped children here today and watching all over the world who feel marginalized by the lack of active and engaged transparent assistance in recovering our loved ones, i implore congress to take strong unified action toward japan for its ongoing refusal to return our kidnapped children. for the past two years, prime minister abi has spread all over the press how president trump and the us are going to help japan resolve the 1977 to 1983 kidnappings of 17 of their citizens kidnapped in north korea. i feel for those parents. i understand their pain. it's our pain. and the us should help. it's the right thing to do. president trump ran on putting
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america first. well, putting america first means putting america's kidnapped children first, and bringing them home. prime minister abi, what about returning before hundred -- 200- plus americans kidnapped to japan since 1994? what about returning moke? the government of japan throwing their arms in the air and saying it is up to the kidnapper. it's not acceptable. last week secretary pompeo said to the german marshall fund in brussels when treaties are broken, violators must be confronted. and the trees must be fixed or discarded. words should mean something. how will japan be confronted? in september, the president addressed the united nations
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america, and the standing up for america's kidnapped children? words must be backed up with actions. so that japan will recognize that enough is enough and the united states will not tolerate the ongoing kidnapping and retention of our citizen children. and vice presidentsãas vice president princes press statement, from his november trip to japan, he stated to the prime minister that president trump has made a commitment to are keeping that promise.
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before the end of the year, we will deliver 10 f 35 japan and six more 2019. i urge congress to take immediate action, while the opportunity exists and block the sale of defense technology to japan until our kidnapped children are returned to us. they broken their treaty and obligations. it is necessary to stand up for american people more -- here. create a sanction. please stop the delivery of the f-35's. tell the prime minister it's not acceptable to continue to hold my son moke moorhouse, or any of the for hundred -- 400- plus american children, kidnapped and retained in japan. >> mr. moorhouse thank you very much for your persuasive
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testimony. we will now hear from mr. gariocia. >> thank you mr. chairman, on behalf of my cochairman, my children, i would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here of the united states congress about international parental abduction and the goldman act to return abducted american children. it has been well documented that international parental abduction in most cases is not an act of love, but rather an extreme form of child abuse. children who are victims of parental abduction, usually have already gone through the pain of their parents separation or relationship breakup. due to the unilateral decision of one of their parents, these children face the ability of
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losing their parents. sadly, as in the case of my to boys, matteo and martin, they have been deprived of any contact whatsoever with her dad for over two years now. the effect of international parental abduction can be catastrophic. a report published by the american bar association reports the children that are abducted for over six months face severe psychological trauma and severe social disorders that will likely not be resolved as long as the child stays with his or her abductor. although reintegration with family after many years can be difficult for the child, this is often the only chance the child will have to overcome the issues caused by the abduction. most children are found to improve with the stability of being home with a parent and
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attending therapy. the essay goes on and says that children of long-term abductions report a feeling of resentment toward both parents. the objecting parent, for stealing them. and the left behind parent, for not rescuing them sooner. the longer the child is on the run the more emotional damage is done. abducted children had a high rate of seeking out there left behind parent as teenagers and adults, always seeking reunification even after many years apart. this suggests that returning a child to left behind parent even after many years is often what is best for the child and is what the child results. shortly after my children's abduction in august 2016, i found much needed encouragement and hope from a press release that just release dated november 18, 2015 from former secretary of state john kelly. and i'm going to highlight three paragraphs of that
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statement. one, according to a press release, one of the department of state's highest priorities is the welfare of children involved in international parental child abduction cases. in one of our most effective tools for resolving these cases is the abduction. two, in 2014 congress passed the international child abduction prevention and return act, which gives the department of state additional tools to advocate for the return of the abducted children. and three, there can be no safe haven for abductors. there can be no safe haven for abductors. so, i'm going to focus my testimony on those three topics. after fighting for over two years to secure the return of my children from ecuador, i have found the following conclusions. one, the convention has not been an effective tool in
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bringing my children back from ecuador. two, the state department has not enforced the tools provided by the goldman act. and three, the abductor seems to have been successful in finding a safe haven in ecuador. the partner company has been listed as noncompliant by the state department for several years consecutively. let me talk about the hague convention. in principle, the remedy available to the hague convention of having the abducted children return to the parents, seems to achieve a fair process. however reality is rather different. as soon as the taking parent abducted my chair -- children to ecuador, she filed for divorce, parental support and child support. henceforth, she has retained 13 attorneys from nine different law forms in ecuador in two years.
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13 attorneys from nine different law firms in ecuador! none in the us. when we separated for divorce proceedings in the us, she did not even bother to retain an attorney from the united states. she did not appear in court and the court gave me full custodial and parental rights of my children. she continued on with the cases in ecuador. the that's just the 13 ecuadorian attorneys were not retained randomly. they are rather widely known for their political connections in ecuador and questionable unethical illegal practices. in fact, the very first attorney chosen by ecuador is the wife of the person who was acting at the time as the miniature ofãas minister of the interior. the wife of the minister has the police at her head.
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don't come to ecuador. the wife of the minister that was acting then as the president of the acting judicial council ecuador who was recently ousted ecuador due to corruption. more recently, she returned the services of another attorney antonio coastal who has a reputation of engaging in bribery. it is worth emphasizing that we have committed fairly large list of irregularities from day one in ecuador. let me share some of those irregularities with you as the pertain to the hague convention. the judge did not allow testimony from the us from us independent professionals that were going to testify via videoconference. these professionals included family therapist and the
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guardian for miami who were appointed by a florida judge. and they had first-hand knowledge of our family dynamics as they personally treated both parents and children for nearly 3 years. lower court judge did not travel personally to attend this meeting in ecuador. according to the us custody evaluator who had previously testified in other proceedings in different countries, he found them extremely hostile environment in the ecuadoran court. most notably the custody evaluated claim one, that the judge demonstrated to be utterly biased. two, his pet access passport was confiscated by the court and in the afternoon long after his testimony had concluded. and three, that he was threatened in ecuador for perjury. so he was not coming back to the us.
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the lower court judge did not recuse herself from hearing this case despite the fact that she maintains an intimate friendship with opposing counsel. oddly enough the judge in abductors attorneys were displaying public messages on facebook of their mutual admiration and love., precisely the time when we are waiting to hear the hearing date for the hague case. the lower court judge at a short private meeting with my boys before the meeting. based on that meeting steve denied releasing my voice because she said that was the desire my boys. july 2018 the court of appeals consisting of three judges did not allow an officer from the us embassy in ecuador to attend the hearing. we don't know why. an officer from ecuador's central authority was allowed to attend the lower court hearing. the panel of judges, also in
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the presence of not children come up at this time it was with the presence of an independent child psychologist. after hearing a now -- hearing a panel of judges announce the final ruling would be issued in writing in the final days. however they did announce that their decision to order protective measures were in favor of my children in the form of therapies which were necessary to reestablish the bond between the children with her father in view of the mother strong opposition. the panel of judges several days later issued a ruling in writing with protective measures included denying restitution of my children because they consider that my children were well settled in ecuador. so notwithstanding the court of appeals proceeded to deny the restitution of my children based on the exception. it is abundantly clear that this ruling was made in
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violation of ecuador's constitutional court and the convention. in 2017 ecuador's cost additional court ruled that the one your clock of the so-called exception stops when the petition is received by the ecuadorian central authority. interestingly enough the lower court judge did mention that the petition had been filed within one year of the abduction, however this material fact was notoriously missing from the court of appeals rule. as we speak, my attorney in ecuador is filing today and appeal with the constitutional court in ecuador. with respect to the goldman act, and april 2018 when the state department published its latest goldman annual report, ecuador was listed yet again as a country that demonstrates noncompliance. subsequently, in july 2018, the state department published its report on the specific actions
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taken against countries determined to have been engaged in a pattern of noncompliance in their 2018 annual report and international child abduction. the following is the actual transcript of the full report of actions taken by the state department with respect to it. it consists of three paragraphs. one, the department has reinforced efforts urging ecuador to improve its convention implementation. in january 2018 the us central authority increase the frequency of digital video conferences with ecuadorian central authority, ecuadorian law enforcement officials in the public defender's office. two, the department also plans to invite ecuadorian officials to participate in a new international visa leadership program scheduled for summer 2018. the international leadership program will specifically address the components of dasher's addressing abduction cases. and finally, the third paragraph of this action report says in june 2018, us embassy delivered to the ecuadorian ministry of foreign relations
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giving official notice that the ecuador cited ecuador for demonstrating a pattern of line -- noncompliance. those are all the actions taken. and with all due respect, these actions from the point of view of a parent who has been left behind do not seem that impressive. despite the fact that the goldman act provides powerful tools to the department of state, it is evident that the state -- tools are not being used. the state department actions report contained no sanctions whatsoever against ecuador. in its action report, the state department states diplomatic engagement remains our most effective tool to assist in resolving international pledge -- child abduction cases. i have no doubt as he left behind. that the intentions are good and that the desire is good. but the enforcement is clearly lacking. soft diplomacy alone is not getting the job done.
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finally, with respect to actions to resolve my long- standing abduction. i would like to see the following. we are of the opinion that the united states government is powerless in his attempt to course fire -- foreign countries to obey or comply with the hague convention. to maximize impact and bring back american children abducted abroad, my personal belief is that the us government should start implementing sanctions at the micro level. this will send the equivocal message to the world and the united states that the united states of america means business when it comes to bringing back the its abducted children. so specifically, the executive branch should consider taking the view that america children's are being illegally obtained in foreign countries as a result of kidnap. with implementation of economic sanctions, noncompliant countries will soon start
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complying with the hague convention and american children will finally be rescued and protected from the harmful effects of international parental abduction. economic sanctions may have a huge impact almost overnight. the united states is ecuador's principal trading partner. conversely, ecuador is the 42nd largest trading partner of the us. currently, ecuador benefits from tariff-free entry into the united states for many of its products under the generalized system of preference, gsb. in ecuador the annual renewal of the gsb with the us is celebrated as a major victory. and the current president of ecuador, reino, ecuador is now expressing interest not only in negotiating a new bilateral investment treaty with us, also is exploring a commercial trade agreement between both countries. it is worth mentioning that ecuador is currently facing a fiscal deficit it is unsustainable and that country
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lacks any significant monetary policy maneuvering because it's official currency is the us dollar. from economic point of view, the country that seems powerless is ecuador. if the us were to announce economic sanctions against ecuador, the case of noncompliance with -- with the treaty would be over. two, the department of justice should consider taking swift and immediate action against abductors. back in 2016 when my children were kidnapped by their mother, i went personally to the fbi field office as i had read that the fbi had jurisdiction under the international parental kidnapping act. a special agent told me that on that occasion that the protocol is for the fbi not to get involved until the hague proceedings in the foreign country were finalized. more recently, another fbi agent, a special agent from
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miami emphatically told me, juan, i'm telling you right now, there taking mother won't be indicted unless you win the case in ecuador. so the fbi is not going to take any action unless i win the hague case in ecuador. to my surprise, the fbi agent also told me of the defenses under the international kidnapping act and the hague convention were the same. my understanding however, is that the national international parental kidnapping act has three acts none of which is the well-settled exception. i would hope that us law enforcement considers international parental kidnapping as a violent crime against children and that the fbi becomes immediately involved without having to wait for hague cases to be resolved over kate dasher's overseas. parental abductors usually come with the support network of family and friends who are eating the kidnapping in-or its
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continuation. these individuals should be investigated and eventually be prosecuted if found liable for aiding and abetting. these accomplices, whether they are family, friends or even family attorneys shall be criminally charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap. prosecuting these individuals make sense not only because they will be held accountable for the crime but also because they would obtain valuable testimony against the abductor and there accomplices. moreover, taking action against accomplices could in some cases pursue -- persuade the abductor to voluntary return children retained up -- abroad. and number three, the department of state should consider implementing immigration sanctions against accomplices, irrespective of whether the abducted children were taken to a partner country
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or a non-partner country. the state department can build a database with all the partners illegal detention overseers, including family, friends, attorneys, judges. under this scenario, that only the abductor, but corrupt attorneys and judges could be properly interviewed when they visit an american consulate next time for their visa renewal. the problem in ecuador is that corruption is endemic. especially in the judicial system. and this problem does not seem to be addressed by the state department action report on parental abduction. in ecuador, judges are known for accepting bribes from unscrupulous attorneys and their clients. at the moment, there's no constitutional court because of all of the judges, nine judges who were recently ousted due to corruption. furthermore, a national court judge was part of the panel of judges that hurt my case is currently being investigated in ecuador after journals published a report that her daughter has paid $1000 in income taxes.
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$1000 income taxes in the past 10 years, not $1000 for every year, but in the whole tenure. despite having income of several million dollars in her bank account. the possibility of denying us visas to these individuals can be an extremely powerful tool in preventing and resolving international parental abduction. while legislation may be needed, please, mr. chairman and members of congress, consider implementing immigration sanctions as soon as possible against abductors and their accomplices, irrespective of the country of destination where the abductor has taken our children. i would like to finish my testimony by emphasizing that every day counts. avery single day counts. time does not erase our memories, or our pain. time triggers an awful lot of daily reminders. time is of the essence, and now is the time to bring our
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children home. the childhood of our children is in your hands. the fate of our children is in your hands. my special thanks to michael for his extraordinary work at the office of children's issues and to allison for her unconditional support throughout this difficult journey. and last but not least, i would like to send a brief message my children. i love you guys, i'm here for you always. thank you. >> thank you esther gariocia with a very powerful statement. and your recommendations for additional actions were very well-founded. ms. littleton, at this time you may resume. >> thank you for holding this important meeting on international child abduction. my name is michelle littleton and my three beautiful children acilia, laila, and joseph were kidnapped in their hometown of
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mission viejo california by their father in january 2017. it was the middle of the school year on what was supposed to be attending christmas vacation break. while most children were returning to school my children were boarding a plane and being kidnapped to war-torn lebanon were dozens of american children have already been abducted and never returned. for one year prior to the abduction my family bought to prevent this nightmare from happening by pleading with the judge to prevent this from happening, originally the judge thought i was being hysterical. the judge should have listened to my desperate warnings. by not researching the lebanese history of non-returns, he failed to protect the beer united states citizens he serves. all judges should have strongly
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consider the risk when approving international vacations especially when one of the parents is communication ãas communicating fears about abduction. my worst fears for both of my daughters safety and well-being became real when i requested the state department conduct a welfare visit. during the visit the grandfather stated that my girls are almost of age to be married. they were 12 and 13 at the time. there have been times when the embassy could not visit the children either because it was not safe for the staff to travel to tripoli or because my ex-husband denied access. i have gone several months at a time without being able to contact my children. i cannot imagine the heartache my children must be feeling, especially my son yusuf who was only five years old when he was abducted and ripped out of my arms. with the help of my lebanese lawyer, i have been able to
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slowly but successfully navigate through the foreign and complex lebanese court system. however, two years into my fight and i am still up against my husband delay tactics, the lebanese enabling my husband's tricks. he has filed appeals to every victory i have one. i have even one full custody in lebanon. his lebanese civil and execution courts have ordered the children to be returned to me of the united states immediately. not surprisingly, my x-files an objection on what he calls no jurisdiction for the lebanese authorities to enforce their own return order. it has been three weeks since he filed the objection to enforcement and he may have frivolous delay appeals. i'm grateful that lebanon has recognized the situation for what it is, a kidnapping. and they issued orders for my children to return home to the
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united states but my ex who is a us citizen is making a mockery of lebanese court, us courts and worst of all, putting at risk the lives of our children. this should not be tolerated by the government of lebanon or the united states. i have not been able to see my children in two long years. i have asked if i could travel to see my children but i'm told that it's too dangerous. this is my painful reality and that i have been living for two years. i want my children home for the holidays more than anything in this world and me and my children have the right to be together right here on american soil. it must end at once with my children at home with me. this could be a watershed moment for us lebanon relations. although the united states has had doesn't of children objected to lebanon i don't know of any cases before my where a court order from a lebanese court.
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in fact, there have not been any court ordered returns ever recorded to the state department. zero. but the current court orders in place in my case, lebanon could for the first time, return an abducted child to the united states. it would be a timely and welcome gesture of cooperation between lebanon and the united states as we seek justice for children abductor, wrongfully obtained in either country, it goes both ways. the state department and law enforcement have been so helpful in my case and i'm thankful that they had even more so at their resource. if lebanon fails to enforce the return orders they have issued. almost $200 million is been provided in aid to keep lebanon safe and strong. so much is at stake. isn't it time for lebanon to enforce the return orders they have already acknowledged this in my children home? i call in the state department
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use every tool at its disposal to bring these american citizen children home immediately. and i appeal to lebanon to please quickly and forcibly return orders lebanon has justly upheld. set the example so that any parent now considering the child abuse that is child abduction will no that lebanon does not aid kidnappers. i have one message for my children. i love you. and, i'm fighting for you. and i cannot wait for you to come home. thank you. >> ms. littleton, thank you so very much for that strong testimony to the appeal to our government to use every power at its disposal, every tool to bring these american children home immediately. i think that's part of the message that we are trying to send to the white house and to the department of state, that you have tools in that toolbox
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that remain unused. and because of that, the people on the other side of this issue and let's say the kidnappers are able to game the system in such a way that they stall, they play out, by years and at the end of the day your children and the children never come home while their children. maybe as adults, but certainly not as children. so i do have a few question i would like to ask both jeffrey and you mentioned that you won in court. i know you mentioned you won in court ms. littleton, you won custody? the enforcement issue, that perhaps is one of the biggest achilles heels, and all of this, even when david goldman on whose case i worked, he was in a situation where he would win cases and they would just appeal. and it went on for years. and it gets to the point where you spend so much money and
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time and effort, they hope that you will just pack your bags and go home, which you don't do and so many others don't do. they double down and try even harder. but at the end of the day you get things like the article 13 b exception which is used in the cook case saying, as they did in japan, living in an apartment is a grave threat to the children's well-being which is absolute nonsense. a lot of americans live in apartments, there's nothing wrong with that, it's a great way if you don't have enough money for a mortgage, or you are a transient i guess that is where you decide to live. but in this case he had to spend so much to get to the point where, they vary home with his apartment. and that was used in a court again. and jeffrey you might want to speak to that issue because i think that is utterly perverse of the court and any judicial or governmental body that would use that kind of logic. and on the enforcement issue,
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you mentioned about the intimidation factor and the courts. you talked about the special, how did you put it, the custody evaluators on the case of the doctor from miami that was threatened with prison in ecuador for perjury. you know, the threat however strongly it is made, of prosecution can have a chilling effect on what happens after that. and that goes for judges as well. if they feel they may subjected to that kind of abuse, they may rule the other way. you might want to speak to that as well because i think the idea of restitution is a very dangerous tool in the hands of a kidnapper and in abductor. so and then finally and i do have some additional questions to speak to the issue, if any
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of you can explain or give insight as to why you think both the obama administration and now the trump administration have not used the tools that were given to them. i authored the goldman act, and we took many of the prescribed sanctions that were embedded in the international act as a very good template on what we can do on a human rights issue. and this human rights issue is used against americans and american parents who are left behind. and it seems to me that we had a well-founded group of sanctions and demarsh's at the beginning , it was not meant to be it was meant to be the warning shot before all the other sanctions began to kick in. so if you could speak to that and then you have all in your testimonies made an appeal to that but just in a couple of
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sentences or two if president trump were sitting here, if secretary pompeo and others in the chain of command were sitting here, because they have to execute the laws, they have to implement the laws, we write them. but we do oversight as well and that is just to say please, mr. president, just implement the law. and as you said with the gsp, mr. prince -- gariocia, if gsp was put on the chopping block it would go away. they would stop this horrific game this ugly game of siding with abductions and kidnappers. >> in response to the question regarding how it works in the court in japan and the exceptions they are creating. it goes just beyond the hague abduction convention and really falls under the continuity principal where they will not change current circumstances and really just ignore how the
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child ended up with the kidnapping parent. we saw this play out in mr. cook's case where they engineered and the end conclusion that they wanted to get to which was not to return the children by crafting a best interest of the child argument based on living in an apartment. and as you pointed out a moment ago, many americans live in apartments. my son, when he was born we lived in an apartment in new york. it's very common part of american society and i will note in japan society. so it's a hollow argument. in my own case, as you may or may not recall but the last case took a year. we thought we had a real chance at proving that he had a great life available to him here in the united states at home. we went through all of the motions, i had to present to court investigators pictures of my house, my neighborhood, square footage, all of these great attributes of living in the seattle area and they just sat there and marveled at
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photographs of a very average american house, they discussed that and asked me several questions with no real intent of doing any judicial investigative process. it was all pre-engineered, even to the point of the fact where they asked for us to preventã s present a reunification process for moke and me. and we drew it out in a span that was going to take about a year to reunite him which is truly absurd under the circumstances, i was willing to go to that extent. they never even looked at it seriously in the rolling. they simply ruled that the us custody order that i have had since 2007, 2008 has legal effect in japan has denied her all custody rights under japanese law. so ergo, i am the sole custodial parent of our son both in the us and in japan and they are unwilling to enforce that. and then simply on the unwillingness to reunite, i
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think that was based on, as i testified earlier, he expresses true opinion to an attorney or must earlier. they had many months to sanitize that response and provide an answer for what the court wanted to hear in order to justify not reuniting moke and me. just another example of how the continuity principal works in japan. >> mr. chairman with respect to the intimidation issue in the lower court in ecuador, the us custody evaluator, a doctor from miami a very well known professional and has over 20-30 years in hearings and he is one of the few people in miami who has gone to different countries to appear in these cases. and he called me the following day and he said mr. gariocia i
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cannot explain this to you but i have not ever explained something like what happened or transpired yesterday. i'm glad to be back in miami. at one moment i thought it was not coming back. the opposing counsel threatened me with calling the district attorneys office that day and that time in the afternoon and ecuador. i was threatened that my passport would not be given back to me and i would not go back to the us because you're committing perjury. and the judge did not obtain the opposing counsel. she kept quiet. so they told me i could not give my testimony in a free matter -- manner. to my surprise, all the professionals that were about to testify via conference were not allowed to testify and i'm sorry to tell you but the judge was completely biased. and this is not looking good. the hearing date the meetings
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did not end, because there were other witness and -- in ecuador. but he told me by the time this day is over chances are the judge is going to rule against you. and that is in fact what happened. i was told just last week when i heard about the hearing and congress he told me he would be willing, more than willing to testify here at some point. and i think it would be interesting for you to hear him an independent professional how a foreign court works and whether that court is being fair or unfair. he is willing to come or testified via teleconference at any moment in time. >> thank you, chairman. i think that in general, it's very easy to look at lebanon
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and recognize that they are not compliant so far, no children have ever been returned from lebanon. i think we are moving forward into a better space in relationship with them, they are definitely putting the right foot forward. they are here today, but more has to be done. and the fact that there has never been returned -- child return from lebanon is frightening as a mother who has daughters who could be married off. and we know that because the welfare and whereabouts that the embassy did prove that. so, are we going to send them another demarsh when my daughters married off? >> mr. garrett? >> mr. chairman, the only people more frustrated in this room then perhaps you and your staff and me are the ones that are at that table. and i want to concede that on
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the front end. having said that, and i am leaving this body in just a few short weeks. and there are a lot of reasons i'll be glad to be gone. and one of them is that we sit in this room often times and identify real problems with real victims, many of whom are human beings, every one of whom has import in my worldview to include not only yourselves but your children. and we talked to these problems and we don't solve them now. i want to commend the chairman of this committee, mr. smith, the goldman act has the wherewithal to achieve this. there are nonvoting members in this chairman and there is one guy sitting in the white house and everything in this world tragically becomes a í and a stick and we have the stick to make the japanese and everyone else play ball if we are willing to use it. what i have seen in so many areas and i shall not digress as it relates to us policy with
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regard to anything from who we support and cloth -- conflict zones abroad to how we put a priority on the sanctity of the relationships of the people you love unless they are our own family members. we subrogate often that which is seemingly microbe for the micro -- macro. it seems that if we do the small things that the big things will take care of themselves. and i hope someone in the executive branch is watching this because they can take care of this now. simply by mentioning that these are tragically important here or abroad. if they were more important i bet we would see some movement. having said all of that, again, this is not any way to impugn the folks in this room area i think mr. smith has done all that can be done over the number of years, as have each of you. but these are things that we need to get on the radar of the people that can make the changes immediately. and again i'm not trying to
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lecture you you all know this. i can't begin to have empathy, praise god, for each one of you and your suffering. but it matters, and it ought to matter. if congress were to decide that we were going to fix this, and we really leaned into it it would probably be fixed in a few years. it needs to be fixed on pennsylvania avenue now. and i hope someone is looking now and a phone call is made and i understand there are courts and basic drink this -- jurisdiction in places some of these places you are describing? cut and dry. so, i wish the bottom courts mattered. i hate mere words but i commend you for what you're doing to the extent that i'm able to do here in my time and after, i will. this is really, truly symptomatic of mistakes we made by virtual of prior to dashes prior tire arising.
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i think you can have good relations with colleagues in the global community and prioritize the relations and i don't think they're mutually exclusive. and secondarily i think it might be even better if we showed we adhere to the values we say we do. because that is where i think we failed in the grand scheme. people are looking to see what the country does, not what it says and what we are saying is all the right stuff. what we are doing is not generating results so i take you and i genuinely and sincerely appreciate you for working with us. it's tragic what you all are going through and i hope that it sees a rapid end but i've year that the attitude will only shift how we do business internationally, it will continue. >> thank you mr. garrett and thank you for your service on the subcommittee and your profound commitment to human rights. mr. posey? >> thank you again very much mr. chairman. and again, i would be remiss if
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i didn't state how disappointed i am in that the state department is not here and can't help answer or validate some questions that have arisen because of the testimony that we have heard here today. for example, the last time our staff and i met with miss littleton, the department of state was there and we talked about a number of different approaches that they might try to execute. to make these things happen a little bit more efficiently. they promised to update us and they did in fact contact this and tell us that the local law enforcement had gone to the children's school to execute an order and they plan actually to take the kids into possession and return them to you. but can you just imagine on that particular day, the kidnapper didn't let the children go to school? and he refiled an appeal of every other finding. so i think the political
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pressure definitely needs to be applied at a higher level as mentioned here. when we interface with the local authorities, there is obviously more than a little bit of corruption and they are not on our side like so much of the international community. do you know, each of you, if any criminal charges have been filed against the crib -- kidnapper? >> yes i'm aware of charges being filed? >> have they been filed? it has been eight years. >> yes. b is your ex-wife wanted by the fbi for interstate transportation of children illegally? what is the charge? >> it's the international kidnapping crime act and passport fraud. >> okay. how severe is the penalty for
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that? >> i would have to look at the statute, but they are extraditable because they do meet the comity, it meets japanese law under the interpretation under the department of justice. because that's pretty significant i think that got left out of the testimony. sir, your case? >> to my knowledge in ecuador our people have found safe haven and they have not been criminally charged by the department of justice in the us. >> but where were your children kidnapped? >> but where were your >> they were kidnapped in miami to ecuador. and i met with the fbi in miami and they said they wouldn't do anything unless i when the hague case in ecuador. >> okay so you have to win a case against ecuador, a foreign court. and i wonder why your fbi office is different from your fbi office? >> if i could address that briefly, my colleagues and i have met briefly in the past
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with the office of the attorney general at doj, not directly with the office but underneath in the building. and we cited the fact there has been growth inefficiency in the fbi throughout the country with regard to responding to parents of kidnapping cases. i have seen instances and parents is being turned away saying that the parent needed to file local charges first. nowhere under the federal statute doesn't require any sort of prerequisite. so i don't know if it's a fundamental lack in training, policy or just a desire to push parents away because in the end, these cases are hard to prosecute and they would rather put resources elsewhere. but it is important to actually get this on the record and get it cited. and the last thing i will add in response to that is our coalition of organizations has asked for the past several years for doj to provide statistics on how many cases they have pursued and indicted
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under the international parental kidnapping act of 1993. today they have declined stating that they do not collate those numbers and advised us to reach out to each district office throughout the country. frankly, i think that is a nonsense response but that is what they tell us. >> thank you. i am not a lawyer but i think your court proceedings make it very clear that the children have basically been kidnapped out of miami. and i am shocked that you couldn't get any charges filed and he could. ms. littleton, how about you? >> there is a federal warrant from the fbi for international parental child abduction. there is a warrant. >> there is war? okay, so two out of three. >> if i could just add to that in my experience in knowing hundreds of cases we are the outliers that actually have
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receiver dashes received a response from the department of justice. it is highly unusual. >> inc. you. again, you wonder what the parents are telling their home countries, too. that they are obviously taking the kidnappers's side, and it would be like if you want to kidnap your kids back and brought them over here, they would be found, you molested the child and all kinds of things. you know it's not clear-cut, probably for the other side of the authorities either. if they don't hear your side they obviously are just giving the other side. do we know if there are children in the united states who have been abducted in other countries by americans and are held here and the people from the other countries are trying
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to do just the opposite? are we aware of that? >> yes, there are cases where children have been kidnapped from foreign countries to the united states. >> how many? >> i don't have exact figures on that but i know the department of state publishes those or did on their website prior to the goldman act and they would list year-by-year the case of incoming cases. >> you know how the status works on any of those? do we spec the foreign court jurisdiction? >> my understanding from the department of state on that topic are that is handled the courts that adjudicate it. and the general answer is, they get into the details of the he said, she said component. so one could make a component that we are not perfect on this as well. however, i do think our american rule of law does apply and surely is not applied in those jurisdictions the way it is in japan and i presume in lebanon and ecuador and many
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other countries. they have stacked the deck against american children when our children are kidnapped abroad. >> you would think there should be an international court but you see what happens at the un, the same thing, it's all against us. just out of curiosity is judge waltz still on the bench? >> yes, he has. >> you would not had a problem had it not been for his poor judgment if i understand your testimony correctly. >> that is correct. >> is he aware of what this has turned into mark >> he is fully aware and actually finished giving the final court order, the final return orders that we submitted to the lebanese civil court that lebanon has acknowledged. so he has tried to make it right or rectify it, but i have been left to the fate of my lawyer in lebanon using the court documents that judge
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waltz is now sending to have my children returned. >> and he seems, the attorney there, i was on the a phone with you one time when we did a conference car. dashes call. and he seems confident dashes competent and i guess he did get everybody to the point they wanted to go until the local police muffed the execution of the order. for whatever reason or however the reason kidnappers knew about it and that's kind of sad. mr. chairman, i think it's really clear that we need to get some level of the state department involved and maybe a higher level that would actually want to show up at a hearing and see what was said and be up-to-date on the stuff. and i think to the point of the witness today, clearly, the
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local level of government are not going to be responsive. i don't think we are going to expect to see any change of behavior on their part, unless we get higher level interaction on our part and they have all mentioned the possibility of sanctions being the key. this is not on the radar screen of most americans, but if you know about one of these cases, you know about the injustice of one of these cases, and you think about the children in these cases, it should shoot far up the screen of any agency, particularly our department of state. but i don't have an answer right now except some of the things that i have expressed, that we should pursue further with our department of state. but i just want to thank you for your interest in this as you have so many other humanitarian issues and stood on so much principal for the betterment of mankind.
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i'm deeply grateful to you, sir. >> thank you very much and thank you for being such a great advocate. i think that shows the clear concern for, as she put it, the she has been living for two years, having your children abducted. she did mention in her testimony, as we have seen so many times all over the world that you have one case after case, you have one full custody and yet, there's always the frivolous appeal that follows by your ex. and might appeal from this chair in lebanon as you pointed out here, the court order is in place, lebanon for the first time would return an abducted child to the united states would be a kindly and welcomed gesture between lebanon and the united states for justice for children wrongly obtained. it's a levelheaded appeal to a country with whom we have strong relations and
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friendship. notwithstanding some other issues that complicate it at times, but this seems to be on a purely humanitarian basis, something they could do tomorrow and force the orders. and i hope they will take that from you being here today. and i would just point out that i'm grateful that there are many members of the press here today, c-span has also covered this. we are deeply grateful for that because that allows the american people to hear you and hear what american parents are suffering because of parenteral child abduction. and mr. posey as you pointed out, we have had them here before we have had high-level individuals. for the record, when i introduce this it took five years to get past, the obama administration was supposed to it. when hillary clinton was the secretary of state, john kerry got that position changed in- state and i'm grateful to him for that because we would
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definitely it would languish and die in the senate. and it took five years to get the goldman act into law. but a laws only as good as its enforcement and certainly the prevention part of it is doing better and doing well, not as good as we would like it to be, but the second part, the return of children has been a failure. and it's only a failure due to a lack of enforcement. as one said earlier if we would say gfp is at risk and we mean it, we would have their attention and they would make a change in this dilatory tactics as well as their injustices being measured out to parents. and there's always the case of reciprocity. we tried this country to honor our hague convention obligations, but our idea is that is the rule of law and custody needs to be determined
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at the rule of residence, not in some court somewhere where a judge may not be hague literate and know the issues like parental alienation and the damage it does do to children. so, we need i think perhaps to do a letter to president trump and include your testimonies and some of the others, very, very high profile cases that make the case for robust and rigorous enforcement and it should also go to secretary pompeo as well. i think at the highest levels, when they hear what you have had to hear that -- when they hear what you have had to say today, perhaps they might be moved. and it's time for that to change. so if any of my distinguished
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panelist or if you have any final comments. so, thank you, we will work with you, it's bipartisan, i'm happy to say and my hope is that your children will be home soon. god bless. there --
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