CANADA’S iCHAPEAU ACT
(International Child Harboring & Abduction Prevention Enforcement Act Under LAW)
In a world that is beginning to pay attention to international parental abductions, left behind parents have launched their own advocacy group here in Canada. Their mission statement is to campaign for changes in Canadian law to better detect and prevent child abduction. Also, the Act would deal with non-compliant countries to treaties already signed, in specific The Hague Convention.
The man behind the movement is Stephen Watkins. Stephen’s sons were abducted by their non-custodial mother and taken to Poland on March 6 of 2009. His case was the first court documented case in Canada where a parent, Stephen Watkins, involved a missing child organization, Child Find Ontario, BEFORE his sons were abducted when he began to see signs that he ex-wife was going to take their children and go on the run. Dealing with Canadian Laws proved to be harder than it should be and Mr. Watkins stood up and took notice. It is a sad truth in this world, but children are abducted, and 90% of those abductions are committed by family members. There are currently no laws or guidelines for the Canadian government to reference to when a parent fears an abduction may occur. As in most places, the laws are set up for after a child has been abducted, and very little is done to PREVENT these abductions. Canadian Law needs to evolve and grow to ensure that we are protecting our Canadian citizens, especially our Canadian children. Determined to not walk away and be one more case put on the back burner, Mr. Watkins took the steps to create a campaign proposing changes in Canadian laws, while still advocating to have his sons brought home. This group is iCHAPEAU.
The iCHAPEAU Law would be passed as an ACT in Canada as the proposed law will have both Federal and Provincial aspects to its operation which will provide better tools to Family Courts to detect and PREVENT Parental Child Abductions cases along with giving our Canadian government more solutions when dealing with international parental child abductions.
At this time, the Canadian Government is NO LONGER TRACKING and providing national statistics on missing children or parental abduction cases from Canada since 2008. This is just simply unacceptable. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and hope that things magically disappear. Tracking these cases and gathering these statistics go a great distance when used to help further prevent other abductions and provide continued education about what to do when an abduction does occur.
Currently, Missing Children clearing houses in Canada work independently of each other, only gathering statistics from cases is their areas, and to add to this, these organizations require someone to contact them directly to open a missing child case. With no federal laws or Acts addressing parental abductions as a whole in this country, we are providing the perfect situations for these abductions to take place. It has created a huge void with which we are allowing parental abductions to walk our children right out of Canada. It is time that we address this before any more of our child are stolen. The problems with which our country handles abductions and statistics surrounding these abductions is just shameful. We are doing little to nothing to educate ourselves on the trends of international parental abduction to further our ability to pass laws and create sanctions that protect not only our children, but the left behind parents as well. Canada also DOES NOT track other nation’s non-compliances when following international treaties and agreements signed with Canada. What we have basically done is said, sign this, but don’t worry, we’ll never tell if you don’t ever honor it. Without tracking non-compliance, Canada has no way to report the nations who are non-compliant in returning children to their country by not properly following international signed treaties and agreements. The Canadian Government has no way to report or even comment on the growing problem of non-compliant countries such as Mexico or Brazil.
We are a civilized country with the intelligence and energy to address these HUGE problems within our system and begin to make changes that needed to come long before now. We cannot keep ignoring these problems and exposing our child to these situations. iCHAPEAU is a proposed act which can help lead us into the change and education that we so greatly need. They are organized, intelligent, and compassionate. Please click on the link below to check out their website. They have massive amounts of information and resources regarding international parental abductions, and the changes our country can and needs to make.