Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Country-Specific Resources

Relevant Resources From Other Members of the Hague Convention

Over 70 parties have ratified and implemented the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Each member-state has different views on domestic violence, different approaches to Hague Convention cases, and different authorities handling incoming and outgoing Hague Convention cases.

The Hague Domestic Violence Project's Research

We have volunteers steadily working on compiling relevant information from other member-states to provide you with background information in preparing for Hague Convention cases in the United States. While the information we provide here may be useful, please note that this information is not exhaustive nor is it meant to be legal advice.

Incoming Petitions From Member-States

Petitions for the return of a child to his or her home country may come from any member state. The list below shows the states most commonly represented in Hague Convention cases:

Argentina

Morley. Jeremy D. "Argentina." International Family Law. 2005.
Contains a plethora of pertinent information about domestic violence in Argentina as well as about application of the Hague Convention.

U.S. Department of State. Argentina. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons."

  • The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and provides for removal of the abusive spouse from the home, but it does not provide penalties unless the violence involves crimes against "sexual integrity." In this case penalties can be as much as 20 years' imprisonment.
  • Domestic violence against women was a serious problem. In Buenos Aires Province, the special Women's Police Stations and Family's police stations received a daily average of 53 complaints of violence.
  • Any person suffering physical or psychological domestic violence may file a formal complaint with a judge or police station. The law gives family court judges the right to prevent the perpetrator of a violent act from entering the victim's home or workplace. Charges also may be brought in criminal court, which may apply corresponding penalties. However, lack of vigilance on the part of the police and the judicial system often led to a lack of protection for victims.
  • The Interior Ministry launched a federal program that included creating a mobile unit for providing assistance to victims of sexual and domestic violence. Although the program was planned to have a national reach, its initial implementation started in late October in the City of Buenos Aires. There were two mobile units working 24 hours a day. Each unit was composed of a psychologist and a social worker, and two police officials also took part when they received complaints of domestic violence.
  • The provincial Cordoba legislature passed its first domestic violence law, leading to a significant increase in the number of complaints filed. The legislation is quite inclusive. The term "family" includes fiancees and former or current common-law husbands or wives. The law also defines domestic violence as physical, psychological, and economic violence.
  • The Buenos Aires Supreme Court ordered the criminal, family and minors' courts, as well as provincial courts in civil and family matters, to have duty officers to receive complaints of domestic violence and assist victims after normal court hours. Victims could call a cell phone number to get assistance.
  • Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women, but there was little transitional housing. The Buenos Aires municipal government operated a small shelter for battered women and a 24 hour hotline offering support and guidance to victims of violence; however, few other shelters existed.
  • NGOs stressed that women often did not have a full understanding of their rights or of what actions could be considered punishable offenses. In addition there was a great disparity between urban centers and rural areas with respect to women's awareness of, and access to, equal rights. Indigenous women particularly were vulnerable, due to higher rates of illiteracy and insufficient bilingual educational resources.
  • The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, but the need for proof, either in the form of clear physical injury or the testimony of a witness, often presented problems."

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Cyprus

U.S. Department of State. Cyprus. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons.

  • Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was common. The law establishes clear mechanisms to report and prosecute family violence and provides that the testimony of minors and experts, such as psychologists, may be used as evidence to prosecute abusers. The law provides for prison terms for the abuse of family members. In contrast with previous years, a larger percentage of cases related to domestic violence charges resulted in convictions. Doctors, hospital workers, and education professionals are required to report all suspected cases of domestic violence to the police. However, many victims refused to testify in court, and by law spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other. In cases of domestic violence where the spousal victim was the only witness and refused to testify, the courts were forced to drop the case.
  • An NGO working with domestic abuse victims estimated a 7 to 8 percent decrease in the number of telephone calls to its hot line compared to 2005. The NGO reported that, from January 1 to October 30, 521 individuals, of whom 74 percent were women, 19 percent children, and 7 percent men, called claiming to be victims of domestic violence. The NGO also operated a shelter in Nicosia that served 51 victims of domestic violence during the same period.
  • The law criminalizes rape and spousal rape with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Most convicted offenders received considerably less than the maximum sentence."

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France

Amnesty International. France: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity? Women in France Ask Why Their Human Rights are Being Abused. Web Feature (Domestic Violence Feature No. 2). 30 March 2006.
Article about the deficiencies of France's response to domestic violence.

  • French law does see domestic violence as a criminal offence and the offence is aggravated if the perpetrator is a spouse or cohabiting partner, but judicial processes are not far-reaching enough.
  • Protection mechanisms, although they exist, are not working well. Women have little knowledge of their rights and information is not made accessible. Temporary accommodation possibilities for victims of domestic violence are insufficient. And doctors are not always responsive when it comes to making assessments of violations that could be used as evidence in court."

Amnesty International. France: Violence against women: a matter for the State. 6 February 2006.
A comprehensive listing of information related to domestic violence in France: Names of organizations, specific language of the laws pertaining to domestic violence, and commentary on the responses from the state. Everything up to Chapter 3 is relevant.

Morley. Jeremy D. "France." International Family Law. 2005.
Contains a plethora of pertinent information about domestic violence in France as well as about application of the Hague Convention.

U.S. Department of State.France." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons.

  • While not common, violence against women was a problem. The law prohibits violence against women, including spousal abuse, and the government generally enforced it. During the first nine months of the year, according to a new study by the Ministry of Employment, Housing, and Social Cohesion, 113 homicides were attributed to domestic violence. Of these, 95 victims were women, and more than half of male victims had a record of violently abusing the women who killed them. The penalties for domestic violence vary according to the type of crime and range from three years' imprisonment and a fine of approximately $58,950 (45,000 euros) to 20 years' imprisonment. The government sponsored and funded programs, including shelters, counseling, and hot lines, for women who were victims of violence. Numerous NGOs also assisted abused women.
  • Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. Rape occurred rarely.

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Germany

Morley. Jeremy D. "Germany." International Family Law. 2007.
Contains a plethora of pertinent information about domestic violence in Germany as well as about application of the Hague Convention.

U.S. Department of State. International Parental Child Abduction. 2008.
Contains specific instructions and information about how to file a Hague case if child has been abducted to/retained in Germany. This is apart of a website that the State Department is currently still working on, so not every country is included.

U.S. Department of State. Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. April 2008.

  • Germany continued to demonstrate patterns of noncompliance with the Convention in FY 2007. The Department continues to observe unwillingness on the part of some judges, law enforcement personnel, and others within the child welfare system in Germany to vigorously enforce German orders granting parental access or return of children in both Convention and non-Convention cases. American parents often obtain favorable court judgments regarding access and visitation, but the German courts' decisions can remain unenforced for years. Since physical force cannot be used to enforce court orders and legal sanctions are rare, taking parents can and do avoid allowing court-ordered access. As a result, a number of U.S. parents still face problems obtaining access to and maintaining a meaningful parent-child relationship with their children who remain in Germany.
  • Enforcement of court-ordered access and returns remains a continued topic of discussion at US-Germany bilateral meetings. The USCA notes that the German Ministry of Justice continues to pursue a judicial outreach program aimed at addressing these issues."

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Greece

Amnesty International. Amnesty International Report 2008 - The State of the World's Human Rights. 28 May 2008. POL 10/001/2008.

  • In January Law 3500/06 on Combating Domestic Violence came into force. However, parts of the law were not fully in line with the duty of the state to protect the rights of women."

Morley. Jeremy D. "Greece." International Family Law. 2007.
Reports the Department of State's assessment of Greece's compliance (or lack thereof) with the Hague Convention.

U.S. Department of State. Greece. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons.

  • The government passed legislation in August that charges spousal rape as a felony, prohibits corporal punishment of children, and provides for ex relatione prosecution (prosecution by force of law) for all domestic violence crimes.
  • The General Secretariat for the Equality of the Sexes (GSES), an independent government agency, estimated that only 6 to 10 percent of domestic violence victims contacted the police, and only a small fraction of those cases reached trial. The GSES claimed that police tended to discourage women from pursuing domestic violence charges, instead encouraging them to undertake reconciliation efforts, and that courts were lenient when dealing with domestic violence cases. The GSES, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Order, continued courses to train police on ways to deal with domestic violence victims.
  • Two GSES shelters for battered women and their children, in Athens and Piraeus, offered services including legal and psychological help. The GSES operated a 24?hour emergency telephone hotline for abused women. A unit of the Ministry of Health and Welfare also operated a hotline that provided referrals and psychological counseling. There were additional shelters operated by the municipality of Athens, the Orthodox Church, and various NGOs for domestic violence victims.
  • Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime according to a law passed in August. Conviction rates for rape were low for first-time offenders, but sentences were harsh for repeat offenders.
  • The government recognizes Shari'a (the Muslim religious law) as the law regulating family and civic issues of the Muslim minority in Thrace. The first instance courts in Thrace routinely ratified decisions of the muftis who have judicial powers in civic and domestic matters… Muslim female activists claimed that because all Muslim women in Thrace were married under Shari'a, they were therefore obliged to acquire mufti consent to obtain a divorce. These decisions were based on interpretations of Shari'a law that do not exist in written form and therefore cannot be appealed. The courts routinely ratified these mufti decisions."

U.S. Department of State. International Parental Child Abduction. 2008.
Contains specific instructions and information about how to file a Hague case if child has been abducted to/retained in Greece.

U.S. Department of State. Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. April 2008.

  • Greece's record of compliance with the Convention in FY 2007 was mixed, involving both successful returns as well as cases in which Greece appears to have been non-compliant with Convention principles. Our most serious and systematic concern involves lengthy delays in Convention proceedings on virtually all cases. In addition, in our assessment, the judiciary too frequently denies returns based on routine acceptance of an Article 13(b) . While these patterns of noncompliance indicate that the Greek judiciary requires further education about the Convention, we note steps taken by the Ministry of Justice to train sitting judges and students training to be judges on Convention procedures at the School of Judges in Thessaloniki, including two workshops which were held during FY 2007.

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Luxembourg

U.S. Department of State. Luxemburg. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons."

  • The law prohibits domestic violence, and the government effectively enforced the law. The law is gender neutral and provides that a batterer will be removed from the house for 10 days; this can be extended an additional three months. Police are responsible for pursuing the charges so that a victim cannot be intimidated into dropping charges.
  • There is a hot line for battered women. During the year government-sponsored NGO shelters provided refuge to approximately 310 women and 340 children. In addition, the government provided financial assistance to domestic violence victims. Information offices set up to respond to women in distress reported that they received about 1,000 telephone calls during the year. The government funded organizations that provided shelter, counseling, and hot lines.
  • The law specifically prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government enforced these laws effectively."

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Mexico

Amnesty International. "Amnesty International Report 2008 - The State of the World's Human Rights." 28 May 2008. POL 10/001/2008.

  • In June the National Survey on the Dynamic of Family Relations found that 67 percent of women over the age of 15 reported experiencing some form of violence in the home, community, workplace or school and nearly one in 10 reported that they had experienced sexual violence. In February the Federal Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence came into force. Nine states introduced similar legal reforms. More than 25 women were reported to have been murdered in Ciudad Juárez in 2007. The authorities continued to fail to bring to justice those responsible for many crimes of violence against women in the state in previous years. In other states, such as Mexico State, there were reportedly even higher numbers of women murdered with impunity."

Amnesty International. "Protection for Women: Violence in the Family in Mexico." 1 December 2008. AMR 41/056/2008

  • Briefly outlines the deficiencies of Mexico's protection of women. Although there are laws against domestic violence, protection is rarely enforced and women are strongly encouraged to participate in arbitration or conciliation with their attackers, leaving many of them to never proceed.
  • There are currently 60 shelters in the whole of Mexico. More than half are run by civil society organizations. There is an urgent need for state and municipal authorities to fund and extend the coverage of shelters for women survivors of domestic violence."

Morley. Jeremy D. "Mexico." International Family Law. 2007.
Contains a plethora of pertinent information about domestic violence in Mexico as well as about application of the Hague Convention.

U.S. Department of State. "Mexico." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons."

  • Domestic violence was pervasive and vastly underreported. The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and stipulates fines equal to 30 to 180 days' pay and detention for up to 36 hours; however, actual sentences were normally lenient. On the state level, laws sanctioning domestic violence, if any, are weak. Seven states have not criminalized domestic violence, and 15 states sanction family violence only when it is a repeated offense. Victims generally did not report abuse for a variety of reasons, including fear of reprisal by their spouses, fear of becoming economically destitute if their spouses are imprisoned, and the general disinterest of authorities in prosecuting such offenses. The special federal prosecutor for crimes against women, Alicia Elena Perez Duarte, reported that 1,600 women were killed annually, mostly from domestic violence. On December 19, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill aimed at preventing violence against women, including prevention and assistance measures provided by all levels of government.
  • The government's cabinet-level National Institute of Women (INMUJERES) reported that its national hot line established under the National Plan for a Life without Violence received more than 27,000 calls between January 1 and October 31, a dramatic increase since it was established in 2002. Although there were some government-funded shelters, civil society organizations and women rights groups maintained the vast majority of available shelters.
  • The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, imposing penalties of up to 20 years. However, rape victims rarely filed complaints with police, due to seeing the widespread impunity for rape in the justice system. In February 2005 Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on Violence Against Women Yakin Erturk stated that violence against indigenous women, in particular, was often "dismissed or justified within the context of cultural specificity."
  • Other forms of violence against women within relationships were similarly widespread and unpunished. On October 10, the Attorney General's Office of the Federal District reported that on average it received 60 complaints of sexual violence per day."

U.S. Department of State. International Parental Child Abduction. 2008.
Contains specific instructions and information about how to file a Hague case if child has been abducted to/retained in Mexico.

U.S. Department of State. Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. April 2008.

  • For FY 2007, Mexico demonstrated patterns of noncompliance. Many of the systemic problems mentioned in previous compliance reports persist. Locating children or taking parents in Mexico continues to be a serious impediment for Convention applicants, and often takes years. Of the USCA's 31 unresolved cases from Mexico, 23 remain unresolved because the taking parents and the children have not been located (see the "Unresolved Cases" section of this report for more information).
  • This inability to locate abducted children taken to Mexico remains the single largest frustration that left-behind parents in the United States face. Inadequate resources are devoted to locating missing children, severely undermining successful implementation of the Convention in Mexico. Cases can remain unresolved for years, as the taking parent and the child/ren are not located. Even in cases in which parents and children are located, taking parents often hide successfully when ordered to appear before a judge for a Convention hearing. Mexico must recognize the critical need to devote more resources to locating missing children and bringing abducting parents to justice in order to become compliant with the Convention.
  • The Department also continues to note patterns of noncompliance in Mexico's judicial system. Abuses of the Amparo appeal system during this reporting period often led to excessive delays in Convention cases and further increased the legal costs incurred by the left-behind parent. In the few successful cases that led to the return of the child to the United States, the left-behind parent turned to a private attorney who better understood the principles of the Convention.

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Scotland

Amnesty International. Amnesty International Report 2008 - The State of the World's Human Rights. 28 May 2008. POL 10/001/2008.

  • Women who were subject to immigration control and had experienced violence in the UK, including domestic violence and trafficking, found it almost impossible to access the housing benefit or income support they needed, as a result of the "no recourse to public funds" rule. This provides that certain categories of immigrants who have leave to enter and remain in the UK for a limited period only have no right (subject to limited exceptions) to access such benefits."

U.S. Department of State. United Kingdom. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 6 March 2007.
Has specific section on women and domestic violence under Section 5, "Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons.

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