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Dutch Caribbean Fathers often lose custody of a child due to ignorance about parental authority

WILLEMSTAD – “It happens regularly that mothers decide after a relationship break to move to the Netherlands with the children and without the father’s permission,” says lawyer Lizaima da Costa Gomez. A father has to apply for parental authority separately and many fathers don’t know that.

“If the father has not applied for parental authority, it is relatively easy for the mother to leave the island with the child,” says Da Costa Gomez. “Although we also hear stories that a father does have parental authority, has given written permission to take the child on vacation but that mother will not return afterwards. That is basically kidnapping. “

Time is very important
In this situation, fathers often feel in the dark. They have neither the knowledge nor the means to get the children back. “The time span in which a father has to start legal proceedings is very important,” says Achim Henriquez, lawyer and expert by experience.

Henriquez immediately started a lawsuit with the Court to recover his children, who were taken to the Netherlands by his ex a year ago without his permission and knowledge. “It is not impossible to get the children back through the courts, provided you intervene in time as a father. It usually goes wrong there. People come to us when mother and child have been somewhere else in the world for half a year ”, says Henriquez.

Child Abduction Convention
What makes it difficult for the Public Prosecution Service to bring the children back is that Curaçao has not signed the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. This international treaty, which has been signed by 81 countries worldwide, contains agreements that make it easier for a country to retrieve a child after they have been illegally taken abroad. Curaçao now has few international guidelines for reclaiming children.

“Ridiculous!”, Henriquez thinks, “We have been thinking since 1980 whether it is a good idea to ratify this treaty. Next year it will be 40 years. Children’s lives have been destroyed for 40 years due to the lack of 1 A4 sheet. ”

OM no jurisdiction
Article 9 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states: “that a child is not separated from his or her parents against their will, unless the competent authorities (..) decide that this separation is necessary is in the best interest of the child. ”Because there is no legislation, the PPS has no authority to intervene, prosecutor Monique Dennaoui confirms:“ The treaty would provide us with a legal basis to act more firmly in situations like this. . “

The Netherlands has ratified the treaty on behalf of the Kingdom, but the individual countries of the Kingdom must accept it separately. Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten did not do that.

Nevertheless, after lengthy litigation, Henriquez succeeded: “In my court case it was decided that even though no parental authority had been requested, taking my children was unlawful because it was contrary to the access arrangement as it was. It was also not in the best interest of the children, and therefore it falls under kidnapping, “says Henriquez.

The Minister of Justice, Quincy Girigorie, has not responded substantively to questions as to why it takes so long that Curaçao ratifies the Hague Child Abduction Convention.

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