A.B. v. Poland, Application No. 33878/96

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related o a child born in Canada in 1988 to Polish parents. The parents had relocated to Canada in 1985. In 1991 they separated and the child, a girl, returned to Poland where she was cared for by the paternal grandparents. Some time thereafter the mother took the child back to Canada.
In 1992 the father returned to live in Poland. In 1993 the mother was awarded sole custody by a Canadian court. The child returned to Poland regularly to visit her maternal grandparents. In September 1995 she was abducted by the father from Warsaw airport.
The mother issued a return petition under the 1980 Hague Convention. On 13 December 1995 a court of first instance ordered the return of the child. This decision was upheld on appeal in March 1996. Attempts were then made to enforce the return order.
In July 1997 the Warsaw district court striped the father of his parental authority, a decision which was upheld on appeal in April 1998. Further attempts were made to enforce the return order. In June 1998 the Warsaw district court ordered the provisional imprisonment of the father because of his refusal to comply with the return order.
The father then issued a legal challenge before the Supreme Court of the decision to remove his parental authority. This was upheld on 1 October 1998 with the matter being remitted to a court of first instance for determination. In December 1998 the order for the imprisonment of the father was struck out.
In May 1999 the decision to strip the father of his parental authority was annulled and the matter remitted to a court of first instance. The enforcement of the return order was also suspended. The same month the Canadian embassy in Warsaw requested the extradition of the father, but this was subsequently declined.
In April 2000 the father was again striped of his parental authority, this decision was upheld on appeal. In July 2000 the Warsaw district court lifted the suspension of the return order. In February 2001 the arrest of the father was re-ordered.
In the late Spring of 2003 father and daughter were apprehended and the child was taken into public care. On 10 June her views were then gathered for the first time. She stated that she wished to remain with her father. A meeting was then arranged with the mother, but this ended when the girl attempted to jump out of a window. The mother then withdrew her request for the return of the child.
On the basis of the child’s statements the decision to remove the father’s parental authority was then annulled. On 22 June the mother went back on her decision not to seek the return of the child, on the basis that she could grant the child emotional stability.
On 11 December the Warsaw regional court ordered that the child be placed with the paternal grandparents. In May 2004 the Ministry of Justice advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that in the light of the child having reached the age of 16, the Hague Convention was no loner applicable. The father’s petition was lodged with the Commission on Human Rights in September 1996.