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tv   House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Child Abduction  CSPAN  December 11, 2018 1:05am-2:53am EST

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>> here is a look at life coverage thursday. returns atthe house 10:00 eastern for general speeches with legislative business at noon. consider several bills, including one that condemns russian aggression towards ukraine, and another al-assadg the bashaar regime for its actions in syria. c-span3 a.m. eastern on there is a house judiciary hearing with the ceo of google company's datahe company's collection policy. later in the day politico is hosting a woman's leadership summit with sarah sanders among the speakers. when the new congress takes office in january, it will have
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the youngest, most divers freshman class in recent history. new congress, new leaders. watch it live on c-span starting january 3. next, the house foreign affairs subcommittee hearing with the parents of children abducted to japan, ecuador, and lebanon. they shared their personal stories and the process they have gone through to be reunited with their children. this is just under two hours. >> the committee will come to order. >> first of all -- first of all, let me begin by thanking everyone for joining us this afternoon to discuss the continuing crisis of international parent and child abduction, and how the trump administration must and can use current law, especially the tools embedded in the goldman
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act, to more aggressively bring children home to their families. i especially want to thank behind the brave left behind parents in this room and hundreds of others who are here in spirit tenaciously trying to -- spirit for tenaciously trying to recover their child or children from an abduction. 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, inhumane abduction demands more effective u.s. government action. today we will hear from three extraordinary parents who have left no stone unturned in the noble quest of bringing their kids home. out of deep love and concern for the safety and well-being of their children, all three moorhouse, juan garicia, and michelle litton continue to strive and to hope
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and to believe. all three parents are, and as far too many others like them, daily endure the absolute nightmare of having had their but love it -- beloved children kidnapped and taken to a foreign land. we can and we must do better. as jeffrey moorhouse notes in his testimony, to date, there have been more than 400 u.s. 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 i heard his voice was father's day 2010. i love you, mochi, wherever you are, he said, our kidnapped children's voice, he goes on, have been silenced and he speaks on behalf of many other left behind parents and that they need to be heard. child abduction is child abuse. and it continues to plague thousands of families across the united states. each year, more than 450 new children are abducted, adding to
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the 11,000 children who are abducted internationally between -- were abducted internationally between 2008 and 2017. the good news, since congress adopted legislation that i wrote in 2014, the shawn 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 is half of the number of just 10 years ago. according to the state department january report on international child abductions, for 2018, the state department's prevention team has been working with the department of homeland security, as directed by the goldman act, to protect vulnerable children from abduction. last year, 210 very high risk children were enrolled in the dhs prevention program, an increase of 60% over 2016.
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we have also seen some high profile federal criminal prosecutions of taking parents, and their accomplices, such as the prosecution and conviction of carlos and his wife, gwenna assisting in the kidnapping of their grandson , niko brown, to brazil years ago. these efforts of the d.o.j. and fbi are incredibly important, not only for the holding, perpetrators, holding the perpetrators accountable and for driving home the seriousness of international child abduction, but also for deterring future abductions. ask everyone who works in the field or any left behind parent and they will tell you that international child abduction is abductions are very difficult to resolve, even with the 77 countries that have partnered with the united states in the hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. 215 children came home last year. every return is a hard-won celebration, and should not be minimized, but every case
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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 fighting in a foreign court for years on end? did the foreign court expansively read the hague convention exceptions to return so that living in an apartment counted as a quote, "grave 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 determinations, and to do so quickly. but it is regularly flouted without consequence to the violating country. tragically, the state department has persistently reversed, and this is the bad news, persistently refused the use of return tools that are in the
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goldman act, as envisioned by congress, to enforce the hague convention, in both haig and and non-hague countries and to move non-hague countries to bilateral resolution agreements with the united states. a 42% return rate of american children within two years of abduction, and that's the rate, cries out, for immediate and systemic improvement. we can and we are must do better. the goldman act of course empowers the secretary of state with significant sanctions, including the authority to withdraw, limit, or suspend u.s. development, security, or economic support assistance, to delay or cancel one or more bilateral working official or state visits, to extradite the taking parent, which puts pressure on the parents to return the child, to come up with their own actions, that would have a positive effect and many other prescribed actions that are in the goldman act. to my knowledge, extradition has
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been used once, and the other options, not at all. that has got to change, and in a senate hearing on april 24 of this year, the assistant secretary of the bureau of counselor affairs, karl rish, testified that the state department, quote, "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 has apparently never found a single case where those tools would be helpful. not even in the cases where the foreign courts had decided on return, but just failed to enforce those orders. devon davenport has won all 24 appeals over the last nine years for the return of his daughter nadia from brazil and yet she is still not home. dr. brown has been waiting for five years for the return of his son niko from brazil.
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we have 100 american children abducted to india with almost no hope of return without the united states choosing to take 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 indian citizens until abducted children are returned. another opportunity to get this right. while japan was finally named a noncompliant country by the trump administration in this year's annual report, after having just about nothing done in the previous administration on japan, japan is still not held accountable for the dozens of cases that were pending before it signed the hague convention in 2014. and jeffrey will talk about that in his testimony, but what a dark day that was. they signed the hague convention, which maybe, maybe opens up the door to some cases from then on but all of the cases that preceded ratification of the hague convention are grandfathered out.
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what a gross injustice. marine corps sergeant michael elias suffered the abduction of his two children to japan. in 2008, after courts in new jersey decreed shared custody and no travel for the children, japan gave the children replacement passports to facilitate the abduction. sergeant elias has not been able to speak to his children in ten years. i actually travelled with my chief of staff to japan to raise his and other cases, and i was shocked frankly by what we were not doing to help this combat war veteran, at least see his children, and hopefully to bring his children home. i believe the trump administration can and must do better, with the backing of the hague convention, bi-lateral agreements, and requests for cooperation and return of abducted children, and with the actions described in the goldman act. we can and we must do better. the time is now. delay is denial, and for these three parents, and so many others like them, the agony is every day, every day, and every
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day. and we need to change that, and we can change it with our law. i would like to yield. mr. garrett, for such time as you may consume. mr. garrett: thank you, mr. chairman. i'm going to waive and reserve time later. >> thank you very much. i would like to now yield to the gentleman, mr. posy. posey: 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'm proud to represent michelle littlejohn, and one of the three witnesses here today. ms. littlejohn's three children, beautiful children, two daughters and a son, asill la, lila and joseph, why tragically abducted by her former husband, to lebanon nearly two years ago.
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she's worked tirelessly to litigate their return in lebanese courts and has won remarkable, landmark decisions that have essentially established her case to return the children. yet, she waits. i must defer to her with great respect to tell you the entire story, and commend her for her brave struggle. mrs. littleton's testimony and that of the other witnesses today suggest we need to look as you said at ways to improve our government areas support of parents who face abductions and retentions. as you mentioned so eloquently in your opening statement, mr. chairman, congress passed the goldman act to empower the state department with tools, or sanctions to discipline countries who enable abductions and retentions. 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
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our support for the brave parents like mrs. littleton. i follow the travels and the work of our secretary of state, who clearly, obviously, gives that job absolute 100%, and i just can't tell you how i'm disappointed that none of the other 60,000-plus employees in gone department could not find time to show up today and participate in this important hearing that you've called. very disappointed. and maybe i may bring that to the attention of the secretary. these are doubtless difficult circumstances when a child abduction intersects with our foreign relations. we must try to do better and again chairman smith, i want to thank you for holding this important hearing and allowing me to participate. chairman smith: thank you very
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much. i would like to introduce our three outstanding witnesses, or noble parents who are fighting for their children, beginning with jeffrey morehouse, executive direct of bring abducted children home, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the immediate return of internationally abducted children being wrongfully detained in japan. bring our children home strives to end japan's human rights violation of denying children unfettered access to both parents, and works to increase public awareness through community outreach on international parental child abduction. his son, mochi, remains kidnapped in japan, despite mr. morehouse's sole custodial order being recognized by the courts in japan in both 2014 and 2017. he is also a founding partner in the coalition to end international parental child abduction and the g-7 kidnap to japan reunification project. we will then hear from juan
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garao, who is the father of two boys, mateo and martin, who were taken to ecuador, who were abducted to ecuador in august of 2016. mr. garako decided to start his own independent financial advisory practice in '04, the ateo was born. that year his practice allowed him to fulfill his commitment to spend more time with his children. previously he worked for a select number of investment banks in new york and miami and he is here today, to make that appeal for his two children. and we're grateful he's here. then we will hear from michelle littleton, who is the mother of three children, acilia, laila, and joseph, who were abducted to lebanon. after her children's abduction, she moved from california to florida to be with family, and
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hired as an assistant to launch operations at the cape canaveral air force station as a contract hire for the united launch alliance. ms. littleton is also ect -- was also selected as an ambassador to the united states 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 she their rooms and are furnished and decorated at her home on merit island florida -- merit island, florida for the day they come home. the floor is yours. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for the committee for having me here today to share my expertise and personal invites on the ongoing problem of child abduction in japan. japan is internationally known as a black hole of child abduction. to date, as you mentioned, there have been more than 400 u.s. children kidnapped to japan since 1994, and the government of japan has not returned a single american child to an american parent.
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over the years, many japanese citizens and officials have shared with me that they are deeply ashamed of these abductions, and need help from the u.s. and other countries to change it. they have asked for continued public foreign pressure as it gives them the support needed internally to uproot this kabal of resistance in japan that continues to corrupt the family court system there. bal of resistance in japan that continues to corrupt the family court system there. this is revealed itself in what is called the continuity principle or simply put, judges and attorneys representing abductions, and abductors, and they manipulate the best interests of the child, to rule
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that the child should remain alienated and ignored, how they ended up with the abducting parent. when japan ceded to the hague convention on the civil aspects of international parental child abduction in april 1, 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 first, our worst fears had been realized. they had no real plan to uphold the spirit and the intent of the hague abduction convention. it was all a misdirection, all smoke and mirrors. what we forsaw then 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 the exercise of those rights may be subject. the central authorities shall take steps to remove, as far as possible, all obstacles to exercise these rights.
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in the first known case to pursue hague access rights in the japanese courts, canadian henrick teton requested interim access to his children and was ignored by the court. the judge refused to provide his name, therefore making accountability in these rulings impossible. no observers, no embassy officials were allowed to witness the court proceedings. four and a half year later, -- sorry, four and a half years ago, at the very moment japan ceded to the hague abduction convention, parents joined bring abducted 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. we must wait and see. well, we've waited and we've seen. of those 30 cases, three parents
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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 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 weaponizing 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's been nonresponsive. in consultation with the japanese central authority, the office of children's issues is again encouraging me to file an article 21 motion in the japanese courts. this is grossly flawed. as i'll state later in my
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testimony, japan now admits that all power to comply with court rulings rests with the kidnapper. 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 order fails every time, unless the kidnapping parent willingly complies. now in japan, an enforcement
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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 those children. for james cook, as the chairman mentioned, he testified to the subcommittee in april. japan's supreme courts overturned the return 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 in 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 work, and it crushes any hope of reuniting with our kidnapped children. according to my discussion with the state department, mr. cook's
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case would now be classified as a 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 japan's systemic failure to return , involves twodren japanese parent can living in 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 -- that i have not yet seen in cases involving a nonjapanese parent. like in the oregon case that ended in 2016, the enforcement of the hague return order failed. in this new instance, a japanese form of habeus corpus petition was filed in the naglia high court, but it was not awarded.
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so the father appealed to the supreme court in japan, which issued a ruling in march, 2018, and they wrote four 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, the lower court. in effect, the supreme court issued an opinion, but they didn't issue a return based on habeus corpus, which evolved out of this failed hague process. now in july of 2018, the naglia high court issued a new ruling in the case.
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this time the child was ordered returned, but 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. demarsh, an official public statement, denial of -- or cancellation of official meetings or state visit visit, the withdrawal, limitation or suspension of u.s. assistance, and a formal request to extradite the kidnapping parent. to date, only the marshes have been issued.
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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, and i will quote, "are we using the tools in the goldman act, beyond the marshes?" the assistant secretary, karl rish, of counselar affairs 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 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 2008 to
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2015, 9127 children were kidnapped, and only 3992 were returned. there was no substantial change in the percentage in those eight years. some were 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, that would point to a failure in strategy, not success. this subcommittee in april also held a hearing that examined the lack of use in the tools, and at the hearing, chairman smith, you noted that since 2014, we've 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 adviser for children's
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issues, suzanne lawrence, testified, and i will quote from her, "we do consider all the tools we have at our disposal, and we do that with our inter-agency 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 up, "what would move the threshold in order to use those tools? what can we tell our families about what we're going to do differently than we've been doing now?" ms. lawrence replied, "i don't have a specific answer for you, on what the threshold is." congressman harris commented, "is it going to take literally an act of congress and an appropriations bill, to get you ramped up through the escalating sanctions that can occur in some of these countries that the state department has been
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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 is time to lower the boom. the state department's response to those hearings was to ignore congress' call to use the tools. a comprehensive review of all four actions reports from 2015 to 2018 shows a very bleak pattern. many of these countries cited are repeat offenders, yet no other tools, other than a demarsh, was utilized. japan had three demarshes in 2017 alone. in fact, other tools were only mentioned one time. in the 2018 actions report, the department, they claimed, the department wrote, the department
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is considering the use of further tools under the act, if japan continues its pattern of noncompliance in failing to promptly enforce convention court orders. in an open session of the diet in japan in early 2017, the japanese foreign minister at the time 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 the senate, the state department has rejected your calls, congress' calls to use the tools. clearly demarshes, rising icpa cases with foreign officials and empty threats are not bringing children home. and what are these demarshes? what's in them? does anyone really know? i'm still waiting for a response to a foia request that our
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organization submitted in february. what is it going to take beyond demarshes? what are the interests of american children that have been kidnapped going to be put first, and when will decisive efforts be made to bring kidnapped abductedhome -- children home? based 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 of 2017 and december. japan knew what was coming, and they were prepared to spin their -- preparing to spin their way out of it. on may 15, 2018, as japan was about to be cited for international parental child abduction by the united states, they held a public seminar at
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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 participants being educated about the hague abduction convention. they are taught how to prevent having their children returned to france, should they be taken without consent to live in japan. more simply put, the organizers lay out how to abduct to japan, and get away with it. -- get away with it. by creating a seminar that advised potential abductors how to circumvent a hague return order, the government of japan has exhibited a shocking and blatant disregard for this international agreement. when they were exposed and confronted by french senator richard jung, japan's ministry of foreign affairs tried to deflect it as a rogue act by a
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presenter they invited. now if that were true, somebody from the japanese government staff would have immediately interrupted at the seminar, and disavowed 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 one 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 address the child abduction issue. this was an attempt to change the narrative. they noted that there is nothing under japan's legal system to deal with parents who refuse to
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hand over their children in defiance of the court order. the proposal on an interim report considered finding parents to encourage them to voluntarily comply. fines and voluntarily 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 kidnapper's will of defiance. that's a very narrow and unique set of circumstances. it is not a judicial or a legislative reform. as this potential draft limped along, in september it was reported in the press, the rules now call for giving more power to enforcement officers, and allowing handovers to take place in the presence of parents with custodial rights.
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on condition sufficient consideration is paid to the sentiment of the children. we've got to unpack this a little bit. it sounds good, but there are two immediate problems with it. first, the hague case has nothing -- a hague case has to do with habitual residents, not custodial rights of the child. there could be a parent seeking a return older that might not have sole custody, or the recognition of being the custodial parent in japan, or under japanese law. it is habitual residence that we're dealing with. second, what is it that they mean by sufficient consideration paid to the sentiment of the children? it is another loophole. what is the sentiment of a child going to be after they've been alienated for months or years? they're going to be filled with confusion, fear, anger, anxiety,
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all directed at the parent who is here to take them home. is this quote, "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 is more smoke and mirrors. the state department has put -- though the state department has put great hope in japan's potential legislation, a recent discussion i've had with them reveals that they were working on a draft from the summer, not the current legislation -- sorry, the current potential legislation. it is not even a bill yet, the -- yet. the current version according to
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our partners have been gutted the bill, and would be completely ineffective if it is ever passed 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, of sweeping legislative changes to improve our kidnapping crisis. japan should not be rewarded with more time to fix problems that were exposed years ago. let the kudos come after our kidnapped children are returned. in may, my colleague and i met with japanese embassy officials to try and better understand, is there any genuine path for japan to reunite parents with kidnapped children? the head of the chancery, which heirink is essentially t
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number two person there, mr. 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 read-out from the office of children's issues on this, and there were 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. 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. is this japan's new tactic?
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admit the problem and blame the kidnapper? we need real solutions to the numerous clear-cut cases, such as naval captain paul toeland and paul wang. though they're both the only living parent, the grandparents in japan are holding their daughters from them. there are cases like randy collins, whose ex-wife was ordered to surrender the child's passport to the court, and instead, she kidnapped them. douglas berg's children were kidnapped from their habitual and legal residence in the united states in 2009, violating his parental rights to access. marine corps sergeant michael elias's two children were kidnapped to japan after a u.s. court ordered no travel for those children. the list goes far on and on. it is far too long.
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all children and families crushed by the government of japan's unwillingness to uphold its 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, 2007. three years later, on june 20, 2010, i dropped my son, mochi, off to begin a week-long 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 phone call that no parent ever wants to receive. it was the police.
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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 seattle 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 her one, in violation of the ministry of foreign affairs' own policy. over the years, people have said to me things like at least you know he's safe with his mother. he might be somewhere in japan, but he's not safe. he's at risk.
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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 your father doesn't want you anymore, or is dead. your whole life is now built on a foundation of lies. this is not what a healthy, nurturing parent does. it's child abuse. in 2014, and again in 2017, i won another landmark ruling in japan. the court declared my u.s. sole custody order has legal effect. my ex-wife has no legal custody rights in japan, none.
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they also cited her admission of illegal acts of passport fraud and forgery. there was no intent to offer justice, though. it was simply the continuity principle 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 mochi 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. in the beginning of my most recent legal battle in japan, , heon was 13 at the time
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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 -- telling that lawyer. the last time i spoke to my son, the last time i saw him was on father's day of 2010. i love you mochi, wherever you are. on behalf of the 66 children listed on the back home web site, and those who have all been rendered voiceless by their a fellow parent of internationally 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
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loved ones, i implore congress to take strong unified action against japan for its ongoing refusal to return our kidnapped children. for the past two years, prime minister abe has spread it all over the press how president trump and the u.s. are going to help japan resolve the 1977 to 1983 kidnappings of 17 of their citizens kidnapped to north korea. i feel for those parents. i understand their pain. it is our pain, and the u.s. should help. it is the right thing to do. president trump ran on putting america first. well, putting america first means putting america's andapped children first,
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bringing them home. prime minister abe, what about returning the 400-plus american kids kidnapped to japan since 1994? what about returning mochi? the government of japan throwing their arms in the air and saying, it's up to the kidnapper. it's not acceptable. the government of japan is complicit here. last week, secretary pompeo said to the german marshall fund, in brussels, when treaties are broken, violators must be confronted, and the treaties must be fixed or discarded. words should mean something. how will japan be confronted? in september, the president addressed the united nations and declared quote, "we're standing up for america, and the american people."
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who is 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. in vice president pence's press statement from his november trip to japan, he stated to the prime minister, that president trump has made a commitment to, quote, "speed up the sale of defense technology to japan, and we're keeping that promise. before the end of the year, we will deliver ten f-35s to japanand six more in 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.
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they've broken their treaty obligations. it is necessary to stand up for the american people here. create the sanction, please. stop the delivery of the f-35s. tell the prime minister it is not acceptable to continue to hold my son, mochi morehouse, or any of the 400-plus american children kidnapped and retained in japan. >> mr. morehouse, thank you very much for that very persuasive testimony. on behalf of your son, as well as all of the other left-mind parents who are being, i believe, cruelly mistreated by the government of japan. thank you so much. we will now hear from mr. garako. garako: thank you, mr. chairman.
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chairman smith, members of congress attending this hearing children,behalf of my martin, i would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here at the united states congress about international parental abduction and the 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 breakdown. due to the unilateral decision of one of their participant -- decision of one of their thents, these children face --
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sadly, the case of my two boys, who have been deprived of any contact whatsoever with their dad for over two years. the affect of international parental abduction on children can be catastrophic. in a report published by the american bar association reports that i, quote, children that are abducted for over six months face severe psychological trauma and severe social disorders. -- disorders that are unlikely to 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 attending therapy. the essay goes on and says, children of long-term abductions report a feeling of resentment toward both parents. the abducting parent for stealing them, and the left
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behind parent for not rescuing them sooner. the longer the child is on the run, the more emotional damage is done. abducted children have a high rate of seeking out their left behind parent as teenagers and , always seeking reunification even after be -- many years apart. this suggests that returning a child to a left behind parent even after many years is often what is best for the child and is what the child desires. shortly after my children's abduction in august 2016, i found much-needed encouragement and hope from a press release dated november 18th, 2015, from former secretary of state, john erry. and i'm going to highlight three paragraphs of that statement. one, according to a press release, one of the department of state's highest priorities is the welfare of children involved
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in international parental child abduction cases. and one of our most effective tools for resolving these cases hague abduction base. 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 found the following conclusions. one, the convention has not been
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an effective tool in bringing back my children from ecuador. two, the state department has not enforced the tools. three, the abductor seems to have been successful in finding a safe haven in ecuador. hague partner country that has been listed as noncompliant by the state department for several consecutive years. let me talk about the hague convention. in principle, seeking to have the abducted children returned to their place of residence aims to achieve a fair process. however, in long compliant countries, reality is rather different. as soon as the taking parent abducted my children to ecuador, she filed for divorce, parental support and child support. three different lawsuits. henceforth, she has retained 13 attorneys from 9 different law firms in ecuador in two years. attorneys from nine different none inirms in ecuador, the u.s.
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when we served her divorce proceedings in the u.s., 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 custody and parental rights of my children, but she continued on with the cases in ecuador. 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 the abductor in ecuador is the wife of the person who was acting at the time as the minister of the interior, the head of police. my attorneys warned me in ecuador, don't come to ecuador. the wife of the minister of the interior has the police at her disposal. don't even bother coming to him. -- ecuador. subsequently, the taking mother retained the services of two attorneys who are known to be close friends with the person
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acting then as president of the acting then as president of the judicial council of ecuador who was recently ousted in ecuador due to corruption. more recently, the taking parent retained the services of another attorney, antonio costa. engaging in it is worth emphasizing that we have committed a eddocumented a fairly large list of irregularities from day one in ecuador. let me share some of the irregularities with you. did notr court hearing allow testimony from the u.s. -- from u.s. indpeptependent professionals that are going to testify. she just did not allow them to testify. these professionals included family therapists and the guardian from miami they had -- who were appointed by a judge. and they had firsthand knowledge
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of our family dynamics as they personally treated both parents and children for nearly three years. the lower court judge did not -- to attend this meeting in ecuador, this hearing in ecuador. according to the u.s. custody evaluator who had previously testified in other proceedings in different countries, he found an extremely hostile environment in the ecuadorian court. most notably, the custody evaluator claimed, one, that the judge was demonstrated to be utterly biased. two, his passport was confiscate by the courtsated in the afternoon, long after his testimony had concluded. and three, that he was charged with threatening ecuador with perjury. he thought he was not coming back to the u.s. the lower court judge did not recuse herself from hearing this case, despite the fact she maintains an intimate friendship with opposing counsel. oddly enough, the judge and the abductor's attorneys were
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displaying public messages on facebook of their mutual admiration and love, precisely at the time when we were waiting to hear the hearing they -- for the haye case. the lower court judge had a short private meeting with my boss before the hearing. based on that meeting, she says -- denied the restitution of my children because she said that was not the desire of my boys. in july 2018, the court of appeals consisting of three judges did not allow an officer from the u.s. embassy in ecuador 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 made -- with my children, but this time it was with the presence of an independent child psychologist. after the hearing, a panel of judges announced the final ruling would be issued in
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writing in the following days. however, they did announce that their decision to order protective measures in favor of my children in the form of therapies which were necessary to reestablish the bond between the children with their father in view of the mother's strong opposition. the panel of judges several days later issued their ruling in writing, with protective measures included. denying restitution of my children because they considered that my children were well settled in ecuador. so notwithstanding having dismissed the reason that the lower court judge used for the -- to deny the restitution, 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 violation of ecuador's constitutional court and the hague convention. in 2017, ecuador's constitutional court ruled that the one-year clock of the the so-called exception stops when the petition is received by the
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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 missing from the court of appeals' rule. as we speak, my attorney in ecuador is filing today an appeal with the constitutional court in ecuador. with respect to the goldman act, in april of 2018 when the state department published its latest goldman annual report, ecuador was listed yet again as a country that demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. subsequently in july 2018, the state department published its report on the specific actions 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 ecuador. it consists of three paragraphs. one, the department has
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reinforced efforts urging ecuador to improve its convention implementation. in january 2018 the u.s. central authority increased the frequency of digital video conferences with the ecuadorian central authority, ecuadorian law enforcement officials, and the public defender's office. two, the department also plans to invite the ecuadorian officials to participate in a new international leadership program scheduled for summer 2018. the international leadership program will specifically address the judicial components of processing and resulting abduction cases. -- resolving abduction cases. and finally, the third paragraph of this action report says in june 2018, u.s. embassy delivered a demarche to the ecuadorian ministry of foreign relations giving official notice that the department cited ecuador for demonstrating a pattern of noncompliance. period. that's it. those are all the actions taken. with respect to ecuador.
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with all due respect, these actions from the point of view of a left behind parent do not seem that impressive. despite the fact that the goldman act provides powerful tools to the department of state, it is evident that these tools are not being used. the state department's actions report contains no sanctions whatsoever against ecuador. in its action report, the state department states diplomatic engagement remains our most effective tool with all countries to assist in resolving international child abduction cases. end quote. i have no doubt as a left behind parent that the intentions are good. and that the desire is there. soft diplomacy alone is not getting the job done. finally, we respect the actions that might be helpful in resolving the longstanding abduction of my children in ecuador, i would like to say the following.
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critics of the hague convention are of the opinion that the united states government is powerless in its attempts to coerce foreign countries to obey or comply with the convention. to maximize impact and bring back american children abducted abroad, i personally believe that the u.s. government shall start announcing and implement -- and implementing sanctions at the macro and micro level. this will send an equivocal -- unequivocal message to the world and the united states that the united states means business when it comes to bringing back its abducted children. so specifically, the executive branch should consider taking the view that children are being illegally obtained in foreign countries as a result of kidnap. with implementation of economic sanctions, noncompliant countries will start complying with the hague convention and american children will finally be rescued and protected from the harmful effects of international parental abduction.
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economic sanctions can 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 u.s. currently, ecuador benefits from tariff-free entry into the united states for many of its products under the generalized system, gsb. gsb with the u.s. is celebrated as a major victory. and the current president of ecuador, moreno, ecuador is now expressing interest in not only negotiating a new bilateral investment treaty with the u.s. , but also is exploring a commercial trade agreement between both countries. it is worth mentioning that ecuador is currently facing a fiscal deficit that is unsustainable and the country lacks any significant monetary policy maneuvering because its official currency is the u.s. dollar. from an economic point of view, the country that seems powerless is ecuador.
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if the u.s. were to announce imminent economic sanctions against ecuador, the case of non -- that the days of noncompliance with the hague treaty would be over. two, the department of justice should consider taking swift and immediate action against abduct -- against of doctors and accomplices. back in 2016 when my children were kidnapped by their mother, i went personally to the fbi miami field office as i had read that the fbi had jurisdiction under the international parental kidnapping act. a special agent, fbi agent, told me 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, special agent from miami emphatically told me, juan, i'm telling you right now, the taking mother won't be indicted unless you win the case in ecuador. so the fbi is not going to take any action unless the win the
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-- unless i win the case in ecuador. to my surprise, the fbi agent also told me the defenses under the international kidnapping act and the hague convention were the same. my understanding, however, is that the international parental kidnapping act has three defenses. none of which is the well settled exception. i would hope that the u.s. law enforcement considers international parental kidnapping as a violent crime against innocent children and that the fbi becomes immediately involved without having to wait for hague cases to be resolved overseas. parental abductors usually come with the support network of family and friends in the -- who aid in the kidnapping and/or its continuation. these individuals should be investigated and eventually prosecuted if found liable for aiding and abetting. these accomplices, whether they're family, friends, or even
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family attorneys, shall be criminally charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap. prosecuteing these individuals makes sense not only because they will be held accountable for their crime, but also because law enforcement will obtain testimony against the adapter and their accomplices. more importantly, taking action against accomplices could in some cases persuade the abductor to voluntarily return children retained 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 hague partner country or a nonpartner country. the state department can build a database with all the partners -- all the individuals involved in the retention of american children overseas, including family, friends, attorneys, judges. under this scenario, not only the abductor, but corrupt attorneys and judges could be properly interviewed when they visit an american consulate next
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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's action report on parental abduction. in ecuador, judges are known for accepting bribes from unscrupulous attorneys and their clients. at the moment, there is no constitutional court because all of the judges, nine judges were recently ousted due to corruption. furthermore, a national court judge was part of the panel of judges that heard my case, is currently being investigated in ecuador after a journalist published a report that her daughter has paid $1,000 in income taxes. $1,000 income taxes in the past 10 years. not 1000 every year, but in the whole 10-year period, $1,000 in income taxes, despite having inflows of several million
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dollars in her bank account. the possibility of denying u.s. visas to these individuals can become 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. every single day counts. time does not erase our memories or heal our pain. time triggers an awful lot of daily reminders. time is of the essence and now is the time to bring our 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.
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and to allison for her unconditional support throughout this difficult journey. and last but not least, i'd like to send a brief message to my children. i love you guys. i'm here for you always. thank you. >> thank you, mr. garaicoa, for that very powerful testimony and your recommendations for additional actions. i think they were very well founded. miss littleton, i yield as much time as you may consume. >> chairman chris smith, congressman bill posey, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for holding this important and urgent hearing on international child abduction. my name is michelle littleton and my three beautiful children, asela, laila, and usef, were kidnapped from their hometown of mission viejo, california, by their father on january the 4th, 2017. it was the middle of the school year on what was supposed to be a ten-day vacation over christmas break.
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while most children were returning to school, my children were boarding a plane and being kidnapped to war-torn lebanon where dozens of other american children had already been abducted to and never returned. for one year prior to the abduction, my family fought to prevent this nightmare from happening by pleading with judge james waltz of orange county to prevent the trip. eventually judge waltz felt i was just being digitfficult and -- difficult took my custody away so my ex could obtain passports without my consent. after he obtained the passport, i had to agree to the trip to have partial custody back. judge waltz should have listened to my desperate warnings. by not researching, he failed to protect the very united states citizens he serves. all judges should have awareness of ipca and strongly consider the risks involved when approving international vacations, especially when one parent is communicating fears of abduction and the data is available to show that return from a particular country is extremely difficult or
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impossible. my worst fears for both of my daughters' safety and wellbeing became real when i requested the state department perform a welfare and whereabouts 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, usef, 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 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 ex-husband's delay tactics from lebanon enabling my husband's tricks.
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he has filed appeals to every victory i have won. i have even won full custody in lebanon. the lebanese civil and execution courts have ordered the children to be returned to me in the united states immediately. not surprisingly, my ex filed an objection based an what he calls no jurisdiction for the will be -- 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 be able to run the clock for another eight weeks or more with frivolous delay appeals. i am grateful that lebanon has recognized the situation for what it is. a kidnapping. and issued orders for my children's return to their home here in the united states. but my ex, who is a u.s. citizen, is making a mockery of lebanese courts, u.s. courts, and worst of all, putting at risk the lives of our children. this should not be tolerated by
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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 it's too dangerous. this is my painful reality and hell that i've been living for two years. i want my children home for the holiday more than anything in this world, and me and my children have the right to be together now. right here on american soil. it must end at once with my children at home with me. this could be a watershed moment for u.s.-lebanon relations. although the united states has had dozens of children abducted to lebanon, i do not know of any cases before mine where the court order for return from a lebanese court. in fact, there have not been any court-order returns ever reported to the state department. zero. with the current court orders in place in my case, lebanon could for the first time return an abducted child to the united
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states. it would be a timely and welcome gesture of cooperation between lebanon and the united states as we seek justice for children abducted, wrongfully retained 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 have even more tools at their disposal and the goldman act, if lebanon fails to enforce the return orders they have issued. almost $200 million and so much more is 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 that they have already acknowledged to send my children home? i call on the state department to use every tool at its disposal to bring these american citizen children home immediate -- immediately, and i appeal to lebanon to please quickly enforce the return orders lebanon has justly upheld. set the example so that any
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parent now considering the child abuse that is child abduction will know 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. >> miss littleton, thank you so very much for that strong testimony, for 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 that remain unused and because of that, the people on the other side of this issue, and that is to say the kidnappers, are able to game the system in such a way that they stall, they play out
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by years and at the end of the day, your children and the children of so many americans never come home while they're children. maybe as adults, but certainly not as children. so i have a few question i'd like to ask. both jeffrey, you and mr. garaicao mentioned that you've won in court. no, you mentioned you won in court, miss littleton. enforcement issue, that seems to be perhaps one of the biggest achilles' heels in all of this. even david goldman on whose case i worked, he was in a situation where he would win cases and they would just appeal. it went on for years and it gets to the point where you spend so much money and time and effort, they hope that you'll 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
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article 13b exception to return , which was used in the cook case saying as they did in japan , that living in an apartment is a, quote, grave threat to the children's wellbeing, which is absolute nonsense. a lot of americans live in apartments. there's nothing wrong with that. it is a great way of, if you don't have enough money for a mortgage, or you're more transient, that's where you decide to live. but in his case, he had to spend down so much to get to the point where the very home, his abode, was a simple apartment. then that's used against him in court again. so, jeffrey, you might want too -- want to speak to that issue, because i think that is utterly perverse that a court or any judicial or governmental body would use that kind of logic. and on the enforcement issue, you know, you mentioned, mr. garaicao, about the intimidation factor in the courts. you talked about the special -- how did you put it?
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let me get it correct. the custody evaluators that on the case of the doctor from miami that he was threatened with prison in ecuador for perjury. you know, the threat, however strongly it is made, of possible prosecution, can have a chilling effect on what happens after that. and that goes for judges as well. they feel they may be subjected to that kind of abuse. they may rule the other way. so you might wamtnt to speak to -- want to speak to that as well. i think the idea of restitution is a, you know, a very dangerous tool in the hands of a kidnapper and an abductor. and then finally, and i will go to mr. posey, and i do have some additional questions to speak to the issue of if any of you can explain or give any insight as to why you think both the obama administration and now the trump administration have not used the tools given to them.
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when i authored the goldman act, we took many of the prescribed sanctions that were embedded in the international religious freedom 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 seemed to me that we had a well-founded group of sanctions, and demarche was to be the beginning, not the beginning, the middle and the end, and the only thing that is employed. it was not meant to be, -- it was just 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've all in your testimonies made an appeal for that. but if you can also just -- in a couple of sentences or two, if president trump were sitting here, if secretary pompeo and others in the chain of command were sitting here, because they -- they have to execute the laws, they have to implement the
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laws. we write them. but we do oversight as well. that's what this is. to say, please, mr. president, just implement the law. and as you said with the gsp, mr. garaicoa, if gsp was put on the chopping block, the abductions would go away. they would stop this horrific game. this dangerous game. this ugly game of siding with abduction and with kidnappers. questionponse to the regarding how it works in the course in japan, it goes beyond the hague abduction convention and falls under the continuity principle where they will not change current circumstances and really just ignore how a child ended up with the kidnapping parent. we saw this in mr. cook's case where they engineer the end conclusion they wanted to get to
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, which is not returned the children, by crafting a best interest of the child argument. as you pointed out, many americans live in apartments. born, ween he was lived in an apartment in new york. it is very common. also in japanese society. it is a hollow argument. in my own case, as you may or may not recall, the last case took a year. we thought we had a real chance at proving he had a great life available to him here in the united states at home, went through all 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. they just sat there and marveled at photographs of a very average american house, asked me several questions with no real intent of doing any judicial investigative process. it was all pre-engineered.
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even to the point they asked for us to present a reunification process. we drew it out in a very japanese-style. about a year to reunite him, which is absurd, but i was willing to go to that extent. they never looked at it seriously. they simply ruled the u.s. custody order that had, since had legal effect in japan, denied her all custody rights under japanese law, ergo, i am the sole custodial parent within the u.s. and japan. they are unwilling to enforce that. reunite,willingness to i think that was based on, as i testified earlier, he expressed his true opinion months earlier to an attorney. they had many months to sanitize that response and provide an
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answer for what the court wanted to hear in order to justify not reuniting us. another example of how the continuity principle works in japan. >> mr. chairman, with respect to the intimidation issue in the lower court in ecuador, the u.s. custody evaluator from miami is a very well-known professional that has over 20 to 30 years experience in hearings, and he's one of the few people actually in miami who has gone to different countries to appear in cases. he called me the following day and he said, mr. garaicoa, i cannot explain this to you, but i have never ever experienced something like what happened or transpired yesterday. i'm glad to be back in miami. at one moment, i thought i was not coming back.
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the opposing counsel threatened me with calling the district attorney's office that day, at that time in the afternoon in ecuador. i was threatened that my passport would not be given back to me and i would not go back to the u.s. because you are committing perjury. he was not -- and this took -- the judge did not contain the opposing counsel. she kept quiet. so he told me i could not give my testimony in a free manner and to my surprise, the other professionals that were about to testify via video 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 that day did not finish, did not end because there were other witnesses in ecuador, but he told me by the day this hearing is over, chances are the judge is going
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to rule against you. and that's, in fact, what happened. the doctor told me just last week when i knew about this hearing in congress, bhe -- he told me he would be more than willing to testify here at some point. i think it would be interesting for you to hear from an independent professional how a foreign court works and whether that court is being fair, or unfair, and he is willing to come or to testify via video conference at any moment in time. >> thank you, chairman. thank you, chairman. i think that in general, it's very easy to look at lebanon and recognize that they're not compliant. so far, no children have ever been returned from lebanon. i think we're moving forward into a better space and relationship with them. they're definitely putting the right foot forward.
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they're here today. but more has to be done and the fact that there's never been a child returned from lebanon is frightening as a mother who has daughters who could be married off. and we know that because the welfare and whereabouts visit that the embassy did proved that. are we going to send them another demarche when my daughter is married off? >> mr. chairman -- the only people were frustrated than yourself and your staff inmate -- and me are the ones at that table. that, and i'm leaving this body in a few short weeks, there are a lot of reasons i will be glad to be gone. one of them is we sit in this
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room oftentimes and identify real problems with real victims, many of whom are human beings, every one of him -- to include not only ourselves, but your children. we talk about these problems and we do not solve them. i want to commend the chair of this subcommittee. goldman has the teeth to make this happen. in thise are 431 chamber and 100 across the hall and one guy sitting in the white house, and everything in this world tragically comes to caret and the stick. we have the stick to make the japanese and everyone else play ball. i have seen in so many areas and i shall not digress with regard to anything from who we support in conflict zones abroad to whether or not we put a priority on the sanctity of familial relationships with the people you love in away we cannot
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understand unless they are our own family members. we segregate oftentimes that which is micro to the macro. my submission would be if we do the small things right, the big things will take care of themselves. i hope somebody in the executive branch is watching. they can fix this right now. -- these suggesting things are not terribly important, tragically, to the executive branch. if they were more important, i that we would see movement. having said that, this is not to impugn the fact in this room -- the folks in this room. i think mr. smith has done all that can be done, as have each of you. these are things we need to get on the radar of people who can make changes immediately. you all know this. i cannot begin to have empathy, praise god, for each one of you and your suffering. but it matters. it ought to matter.
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if congress were to decide we were going to fix this, we really leaned into it, it would be fixed in a few years. we can fix this on pennsylvania avenue now. i hope a phone call is made. courts,tand there are etc., jurisdiction in various places. some of these cases, cut and dried. i wish my words mattered. i hate mere words. i commend you for what you're doing. this is really, truly symptomatic of mistakes we make in the foreign policy realm by prioritizing relations with japan over relations between a mother and child. with --have colleagues relationships with our calling summit on the global community and do this. they might be better if we showed that we adhere to the
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values we say we do. people are looking to see what this country does, not what it says. what we are saying is the right stuff. what we are doing is not generating results. i sincerely thank you for -- thank you. it is tragic what you all are going through. i hope it sees a rapid end. i fear that until we shift how we do business internationally it will continue. >> thank you mr. garrett. thank you for your service on this subcommittee and your commitment to human rights. >> thank you again very much, mr. chairman. and again, i would be remiss if i did not state how disappointed i am with the state department -- the state department is not here and cannot help answer questions that have arisen
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because of the testimony we have heard here. for example, the last time our staff and i met with ms. littleton, the department of state was there and we talked about a number of different approaches they might try to execute to make these things happen a little bit more efficiently. us andomised to update they did contact us and tell us that local law enforcement, i had gone to the children's order andexecute in they planned actually to take the kids into their possession and return them to you. can you just imagine on that particular day the kidnapper do not let the children go to school and he refiled the appeal. i think the political pressure definitely needs to be applied at a higher level.
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when we interface with local authorities, there is obviously more than a little bit of corruption. they are not on our side like so much of the international community. know each of you if any criminal charges have been filed against the kidnapper? >> yes. i'm aware of criminal charges being filed. >> have they been filed? it's been eight years. have they been filed? >> yes. >> is your ex wanted by the fbi for interstate transportation of children illegally? what's the charge? >> it's under the international parental kidnapping crime act and passport fraud. >> okay. how severe is the penalty for that? >> i'd have to look at the statute, but they are extraditable. it meets the comity. meets japanese law under the interpretation of the department of justice.
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>> because that's pretty significant. i think that got left out of the testimonies here. sir, your case? >> to my knowledge, in ecuador, or people who have found a safe haven in ecuador have not been criminally charged by the department of justice here in the u.s. >> where were your children kidnapped? >> my children were kidnapped to ecuador. they were taken from miami to ecuador by their mother. and i met with the fbi in miami and they told me they're not going to do anything unless the -- i win the case in ecuador. >> okay. so you have to win a case against ecuador, a foreign court, before -- 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 in the past with the office of the attorney general at doj. not directly with the office, but underneath in the building. and we've cited the fact that there's been gross inconsistency in the fbi throughout the country with regard to
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responding to parents of kidnapping cases. i've seen instances, as he's described, as well as parents being turned away claiming that the parent needed to file local charges first. nowhere under the federal statute does it require any sort of prerequisite. so i do not know if it is 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'd rather put resources elsewhere. but it is important to actually get this on the record and get it cited. the last thing i'll just 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 under the international parental kidnapping crime act of 1993. to date, they have declined , stating that they do not colate those numbers and advised us to reach out to each district office throughout the country.
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frankly, i think that's kind of a nonsense response, but that's what they tell us. >> thank you. i'm 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'm shocked that you couldn't get any charges filed and he could. miss littleton, how about you? >> there is a federal warrant from the fbi for international parental childhood abduction. there's a warrant. >> there is a warrant? okay. so two out of three. if i could just add to that, my -- >> if i could just add to that, my experience knowing hundreds of cases, we are the outliers that actually have received response and indictments by the department of justice. it's highly unusual. >> okay. thank you. and, again, you wonder what the
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parents are telling their home countries, too. you know, that they're obviously taking the kids -- the kidnapper's side and it would be like if you go over and kidnap your kids back and brought them over here, they would be filing a motion saying you molested the children and all kinds of terrible things and why we should send them back to the country with them. i mean, so, it's not clear cut probably to the other side of the authorities either. they don't hear you side. they're obviously just getting the other side. do we know if there are children in the united states who have been abducteded in other countries by americans and are held here and that people from the other countries are trying 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 the exact figures on that. i do know the department of state publishes those numbers or
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did in the past on their website prior to the goldman act and would list year by year the number of incoming cases as they call it. >> okay. do you know how the status works on any of those? do we respect the foreign courts jurisdiction? >> my understanding from meetings with the department of state on that topic are that's handled by the courts that adjudicate it, and the general answer could be yes, but i think as you pointed out, they get into the details and the he said she said component, so one could make an argument that we may not be perfect on this as well. however, i do think our american rule of law does apply and hearsay is probably not allowed in those jurisdictions the way it is in japan and i presume in lebanon and ecuador and many other countries. that stack the deck against american citizens when our children are kidnapped abroad. >> you would think there should be an international court.
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then you see what happens at the u.n. same thing. it's all against us. just out of curiosity, is judge waltz still on the bench? >> yes, he is. >> you would not have had a problem were it not for his poor judgment, if i understand your testimony correctly? >> that is correct. >> is he aware of what this turned into? >> he is fully aware and he actually finished doing the final court orders. 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've been left to the fate of my lawyer in lebanon using the court documents that judge waltz is now sending, so, to have my children returned. >> and he seems like -- your attorney there, i was on the phone with you one time when he did a conference call, and he
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seemed pretty confident and -- seems confident and 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 reason the kidnapper knew about it, you know, 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, at 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 this stuff, and i think to the point of the witness today, clearly, the local level of governments are not going to be responsive. i don't think we're going to ekt expect to see any change of behavior on their part unless we get higher level interaction on
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our part, and they've all mentioned a possibility of sanctions being a key and, i mean, this is not on the radar screen of most americans, but if you know about one of these cases and you know about the injustice of these cases and you think about the children of shoot fars, it should up the interest screen of any agency, particularly our department of state. but i don't have an answer right now, except some of the things i've 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 principle for the betterment of mankind. i am deeply grateful to you, sir. >> mr. posey, thank you very much, and thank you for being such a great advocate for miss littleton. i think that shows a clear concern for, as she put it, the
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hell that she is living, having two years now having her children abducted. she did mention -- you did mention in your testimony, as we've seen so many times all over the world, you've won case after case, you have full custody, and yet there's always the frivolous appeal that follows by your ex. and my appeal from this chair now to lebanon, as you pointed out here, with 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 abducted and wrongly retained in either country. i mean, that is a levelheaded appeal to a country with whom we have strong relations and friendship. notwithstanding some other issues that complicate it at times.
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times. but this seems to be on a purely humanitarian basis something they could do tomorrow. and force the orders and i hope that they will take that from you being here today. and i would point out, and i'm grateful there have been many members of the press here today, c-span has also covered this. we're deeply grateful for that because that allows the american people to hear you, and to hear what american parents are suffering because of parental child abduction. and mr. posey, as you pointed out, we have had the state department here before. we've had high-level individuals. for the record, when i introduced this, it took five years to get passed. the obama administration was opposed to it. when hillary clinton was the secretary of state, john curry got that position changed within state. i'm grateful to him for that. we would pass it in the house, it would languish and die in the senate, and it took five years to get the goldman act enacted into law. but a law is only good as its enforcement, and certainly, the prevention part of it is doing
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better and doing well. not as good as we would like it to be. but the second part, the returns of children, has been a failure. and it's only a failure due to lack of enforcement. again, as juan said earlier, if we would just say, gsp is at risk, and we mean it, we would have their attention full bore and they would make a change in -- tactics as well as their injustices being meted out to left behind parents. again, there's always the issue of reciprocity. we do try in this country to honor our hague convention obligations and that'sour idea -- that is to non-hague countries as well. our idea is in the rule of law, custody needs to be determined at the place of habitual residence. not in some far off court of law somewhere where a judge may not be hague literate and may not know the issues like parental
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alienation and the damage it does do to children. so we need, i think, perhaps to do a letter to the president, to president trump, and include your testimonies and some of the other very, very high-profile cases that make the case for robust and rigorous enforcement , and it also will have to go to secretary pompeo as well. i've raised it at the highest levels myself, but when you hear what you had to say here today, you can't help but be moved mightily to do far more and hopefully the president will have that same view. enforcement has been the problem since enactment and it's time for that to change. the pivot day should be today. so if any of my distinguished panelists or any of you would -- any final comments or -- okay. so, thank you. we will work with you. it is bipartisan, i'm happy to say.
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my hope is your children will be home soon. god bless you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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announcer: the ceo of google is on capitol hill tomorrow to testify on the companies data collection policy. the has judiciary underway at time clock a.m. eastern live on c-span3. later, politico has a women's leadership summit with the rnc chair and white house press secretary sarah sanders among the speakers.
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live coverage begins at 1:15 eastern on c-span3. you can also watch online at or listen on the c-span radio app. >> sunday night on q&a. >> the american not see party had 20,000 supporters. who came to the middle of new york. stormtroopers giving the salute next to a statue of george washington. very active american fascist movement in the 20's and 30's earlier than people think. it was associated with the phrase america first. londoner: university of literary professor sarah churchwell looks at the history of the term america first and the american dream in her book, "behold, america."


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