What is it about: International parental kidnapping, whether as a result of a parent or other person taking or wrongfully retaining a child with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights, merits the full and timely attention of law enforcement. The child (or children) should be considered to be in danger, especially when the person taking or retaining the child has previously threatened to abduct or harm the child or themselves, or is otherwise unstable. In these cases, the law enforcement responsibility is much broader than the simple act of retrieving the child. Officers, and the agencies they represent, who respond promptly, professionally, and efficiently to reports regarding what many term “family kidnappings” become, in effect, a means of protection for the child (Findlay and Lowery, 2011).
This guide is for local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities who respond to international parental child kidnapping cases. It suggests methods for preventing international child kidnappings by family members; describes the role of law enforcement as the initial responder and investigator; discusses applicable laws, treaties, and legal remedies for child recovery and reunification; and outlines considerations for criminal prosecution and extradition of offenders.