The Mandate of IROCS, the International Rights of Children Society, is to provide information to assist families and protect children from parental abduction. Approximately 90 percent of children abducted from their homes in Canada by a parent are taken to the home country of the abducting parent. The concept of a child’s right to both parents is enshrined in Article 9 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, of the General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989.
“3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interest.”
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, declared that: “the interests of children are of paramount importance in matters relating to their custody”. It provides a legal framework “to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access.” Canada is one of over 75 countries who are signatory to the Hague Convention. However, several countries to which Canada has a close tie have not signed the Hague Convention. Between 1996 and 2000, the top ten source countries for immigrants to Canada were, in descending order: China, India, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, U.S.A., Iran, Yugoslavia, and Great Britain. Of those countries, only the United States, Yugoslavia, and Great Britain are currently signatory to the Hague Convention. Consequently, thousands of Canadian children live in danger of being wrongfully and irretrievably removed from their homes to countries that are not obligated to follow international standards in the resolution of custody disputes – standards that are designed to protect the interests of the child.