Compliance Report Methodology
DISCLAIMER: The following information pertains to the Department of State's annual report to Congress on countries' compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. For more general information about international parental child abduction and the Hague Convention, click here
Reports on Compliance with the Hague Abduction Convention
Each year, the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues is required under Public Law 105-277, Section 2803 to submit to Congress a report on compliance by treaty partner countries with the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention).
The compliance report identifies the Department's concerns about those countries in which implementation of the Convention is incomplete or in which a particular country's executive, judicial, or law enforcement authorities do not appropriately undertake their obligations under the Convention. Consistent with 42 U.S.C. § 11611(a), the report places such countries into two categories-"Not Compliant" and "Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance"-with the former category signaling more serious compliance problems.
Many factors are involved in implementing the provisions of the Convention, and the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of each state party have important and varying roles. A country may perform well in some areas and poorly in others. Relying in part on the Guides to Good Practice published by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (especially those on central authority performance, implementing measures, and enforcement), the Department has identified the key elements involved in implementing the Convention and uses these as factors for evaluating country performance.
The Department considers three compliance areas:
1. Central Authority performance, which includes but is not limited to the speed with which the foreign central authority processes applications under the Convention; whether the central authority applies procedures for assisting LBPs in locating knowledgeable, affordable legal assistance; the central authority's responsiveness to inquiries made by other central authorities and LBPs; its openness to communicate and cooperate with other central authorities; the availability and adequacy of judicial education or resource programs; whether the central authority has staff qualified to handle cases under the Convention; and whether the central authority has sufficient staff and equipment to handle its workload.
2. Judicial performance, which includes but is not limited to the timeliness with which the country's courts process cases under the Convention; the timeliness with which appeals courts process appeals; the correct application of the Convention's legal principles, including respect for the prohibition on custody merits determinations, the use of the proper legal standard in return cases, the proper employment of the Convention's exceptions to return (such as the exception for "settled" children), non-bias toward citizen parents over non-citizen parents, and non-differentiation between citizen children and non-citizen children; and the effectiveness of courts' efforts to enforce decisions for return of or access to a child.
3. Law enforcement performance, which includes but is not limited to the effectiveness of efforts by law enforcement officers to promptly locate abducted children; the effectiveness of efforts to enforce court orders under the Convention; the effectiveness of efforts to protect children during the pendency of Convention proceedings; and the sufficiency of resources devoted to locating missing children and absconded TPs, including whether adequate numbers of law enforcement agents have been assigned to Convention cases in light of the size of the territory and population in question.
A country failing in one or two of the three compliance areas will ordinarily be considered as "Demonstrating Patterns of Noncompliance" with the Convention. A country that fails in all three compliance areas will ordinarily receive a "Not Compliant" designation, particularly where the failure in each area is substantial. In rare cases, a country failing in fewer than three compliance areas could receive such a designation if the shortcomings identified are so severe that they frustrate the effective operation of the Convention in the country.