Monday, February 28, 2011

Virginia International Child Abduction Bill Passes Senate and House

Virginia International Child Abduction Bill Passes Senate and House

The Bill which I drafted and submitted to the Virginia legislature with the help of Brandy Bond, has passed both the Senate and the House of Delegates with unanimous votes in both houses.

The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House have both signed off on the International Child Abduction Bill (HB2361) which is now with Virginia Governor McDonnell for signature.

The Bill provides for the seizure and forfeiture of the assets of international child abductors who abduct children both FROM and TO the Commonwealth of Virginia. I understand that Virginia is the very first state to enact legislation which specifically recognizes the plight of children abducted to the US, as opposed to simply being kidnapped from the country.

This makes Virginia a less-than-friendly haven for international child abductors kidnapping children to the state.

There are some aspects I wanted to see in the final Bill, but they didn't make it all the way through the process. These included the creation of a pool of judges to hear these cases, however there were technical issues raised by the VA Supreme Court justices which I hope we can address at the next legislative session.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "Politics is the art of the possible!" and we do what we can with what we've got. I feel it is important to remember that this is a process and not just an end in itself, so I expect to be banging on the doors of representatives again later this year.

I'd like to thank everyone involved, most especially the irrepressible Brandy Bond, Delegate Jennifer McClellan  and State Senators Fred Quinn and Steve Martin for sponsoring the Bill and nursing it through the legislative process.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ABC News on Abductions to Japan

ABC News Airs Investigative Special on Abductions to Japan
Tuesday & Wednesday 6.30pm EST

I've neglected the issue with Japan for quite long enough, but then there has been some excellent work done by the left behind parents at BACHome led primarily by US Navy Commander Paul Toland and Dr Christopher Savoie.

Tune in and get a glimpse of what it means to be a left behind parent and more importantly, to be a child victim of international child abduction.

Emily Koyama - AM Costa Rica Voices Concern Over Failure to Return Child to US

AM Costa Rica is the main online newspaper for English-speakers in Costa Rica and has been following the unfolding Koyama abduction story closely.

I'm pleased to hear there is at least one voice of reason in Costa Rica; a country which has a strong cultural bias to mothers, even kidnapping mothers.

AM Costa Rica asks some hard questions of the Costa Rican authorities, such as how do officials justify ignoring the Hague Convention in not promptly returning Emily back to the United States?

AM Costa Rica also questions the credibility of the kidnapping mother's claim for refugee status. How can Trina Atwell - the kidnapping American mother - who has no legal rights to the child justifiably claim refugee status for Emily Koyama in the first instance?

The American father, Roy Koyama has full and sole legal rights to Emily Koyama after an award by the US court - which the Costa Rican courts have accepted. Why is Trina Atwell still at liberty in Costa Rica and in possession of an American child she has abducted?

This editorial also raises the issue of trade sanctions or suspension of aid to Costa Rica by the United States, and notes the ominous silence on this subject by the US Embassy in Costa Rica. I don't think it will get that far - Costa Rican courts have consistently ruled in favor of returning Emily Koyama - just not very fast. The hope has to be that Costa Rican officials can and will promptly deal with this mess which has dragged on for far too long and made a mockery of the legal process and authorities in Costa Rica.

On the other hand, the suspension of a multi-billion dollar trade deal with Brazil resulted in the return of Sean Goldman within 48 hours of being imposed in 2009. There is also groundswell of public opinion in the US against the lack of compliance from other countries who fail to promptly return children. Tonight ABC will be airing the first two-part documentary on the plight of kidnapped American children being held in Japan.

One thought I am pondering on - how long it will be before the Costa Rican media picks up on the fact that there are Costa Rican children, abducted to the United States and other countries, who are relying on the Hague Convention to get their Costa Rican children back to their left-behind mothers and fathers in Costa Rica?

If Costa Rica cannot abide by the Hague Convention - why should other countries return Costa Rican children back to Costa Rica parents?

With attribution and kind permission of AM Costa Rica, I reprint the article here and the link to the original article in AM Costa Rica

An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Apparently international treaties are just suggestions too

How do Costa Rican officials justify ignoring the Hague Convention on Child Abduction?

Time after time runaway moms from the United States come here with a child and try to get the courts here to block U.S. arrest warrants and judicial orders to return the child.

The latest case is that of Trina Atwell and her 2-plus-year-old daughter Emily. Ms. Atwell is wanted for child abduction, and a court in Green County, Missouri, has awarded the biological father full custody. She claims she fled violence and drug abuse. He denies that.

A.M. Costa Rica is in no position to determine who is telling the truth. But neither are Costa Rican officials. The international treaty says that jurisdiction rests with the Green County judge. There the evidence exists to adjudicate the case and confirm or award custody. A complicating factor is that Ms. Atwell was married to a Costa Rican when she had the child.

One would think that Ms. Atwell would want to go back there and reopen the case, at least to be with the other daughter she left behind.
One would think that Costa Rican judicial officials would want to take immediate and decisive action to comply with the Hague Convention if only to avoid another long court case in an overwhelmed judicial system.

Ms. Atwell is seeking refugee status for herself and her child.

Of course, this is a strategic play because no right-minded individual would compare the lumbering, flawed judicial system here to the one in the United States.

But we also wonder if she does not have legal custody how can she apply for refugee status on behalf of her daughter?

Of course, in Costa Rica mothers are sacred. Whenever there is an international custody dispute, women gather at the judicial complex to support uncritically the mother of the hour.

Some supporters of Roy Koyama, Emily's father, have suggested that the United States freeze international aid from Costa Rica. A.M. Costa Rica will not go that far, but the lack of response and action by the U.S. Embassy make one wonder.

— Feb. 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Emily Koyama - a Perverse Twist

Emily Koyama was released from foster care and returned to her mother, Trina Atwell who originally kidnapped Emily to Costa Rica in February 2009. Emily had been taken into protective custody in preparation for her repatriation to the U.S. after her father, Roy Koyama had won custody in Missouri and the Hague Convention application in Costa Rica.

The case is being watched with intense interest by the U.S. Government in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, and not least by the dozen or so other left-behind American parents with children kidnapped to that country.

Emily Koyama was the first child to be ordered home by Costa Rica.

The abducting mother, Trina Atwell successfully solicited the support of the Defensoria de los Habitantes, a non-governmental group which represents the rights of women. The Defensoria was responsible for filing two writs of habeas corpus, the first of which was heard on Friday by the Costa Rican Constitutional Court (Sala IV).

That hearing heard the first of the Defensoria's claims on behalf of Atwell - that the return of Emily Koyama to the United States was unconstitutional.

The court threw out the mother's claims and ruled Emily's repatriation to Costa Rica was correct and constitutional.

In a perverse twist, the same court also ordered the immediate release of Emily BACK to Atwell because the Defensoria had filed on her behalf a second writ claiming refugee status for both her and Emily.

The claim for refugee status has raised eyebrows in both the U.S. and Costa Rica. Atwell had previously publically declared she was going to return to the United States and raised around $2,000 to do so from donations. The question is how serious is her claim for refugee status when she was clearly prepared to voluntarily return to sort out her mess?

There are also questions being raised about the timing of the Defensoria's move. The spokesman for the Defensoria, Ahmed Tabash stated that the Defensoria had been involved since the December hearings which ultimately ordered the return of Emily to America. Why then has neither the Defensoria nor Atwell at any time in the last two years raised the issue of refugee status before? Clearly there is a large amount of gaming the system going on in Costa Rica, and something which is to be hoped will be dealt with summarily.

The controversy surrounding the Atwell claim to be a refugee from the United States is nothing new. Chere Lyn Tomayko was successfully granted refugee status after kidnapping her child from Texas and like Atwell, claiming abuse. Very troubling, the Defensoria did not make inquiries of the Texas judge in that case - the Texan judge stated that no allegations of abuse had ever been brought before him, and the Defensoria has failed to ask the Missouri judge in the Koyama case too.

The question must be asked - is Costa Rica really serious about performing its obligations under international law, or is it another country which has just signed up to look good?

I trust it is the former, but Emily remains unlawfully retained there and her father is now asking for trade sanctions to be applied in the same way a $2.75 billion deal with Brazil was vetoed by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) - 48 hours afterwards, Sean Goldman was finally returned from Brazil after 5 long years.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 9 for Emily Koyama in Foster Care in Costa Rica

It is Day 9 for Emily Koyama who continues to be unlawfully retained from her Daddy in the United States.

Emily was set to come home before Christmas, but her mother - Trina Atwell - who kidnapped Emily in February 2009 disappeared. The Costa Rican court reconvened after the Holiday Season and ordered Emily home - little Emily Koyama was taken into protective foster care to ensure her mother did not abduct her again.

Atwell sought the intercession of a women's rights agency - the Defensoria - in Costa Rica.However, AM Costa Rica, an online news outlet reported today,

Costa Rican officials seem to accept without question the claims by the woman that they have been abused. In the case of Ms. Atwell, the Defensoría said that she was a victim of family violence and fled from the United States to safeguard her physical and psychological integrity and the lives of both.

Acting on Atwell's behalf, they filed for Atwell and Emily Koyama to be treated as refugees from the United States. Without checking with the US judge in Missouri who has already ruled on the issues of Atwell's claims to be a victim of domestic violence, the Costa Rican Defensoria immediately asserts Trina Atwell is a victim of domestic violence and further, the return of Emily back to the United States (from where she was kidnapped) is additional violence against the mother!

This also seems to fly in the face of the fact that Atwell was claiming she was ready to return before December, provided Koyama would have his MO custody order set aside. In other words, if he agreed to drop custody she'd come back.

What I find particularly egregious is the timing of this claim for refugee status. Again according to AM Costa Rica, the Defensoria had been acting with Atwell since the December hearings when it was then ordered to return Emily home to the US:

In a news release Thursday, the Defensoría noted that it had been working with Ms. Atwell as an adviser in judicial actions since December and recently placed its own action in favor of the woman and child in the Sala IV constitutional court.

Did the Costa Rican Defensoria assist Atwell in concealing Emily from the authorities prior to Christmas so they could then play this refugee card?

We'll never know, but as AM Costa Rica continues, the Defensoria has not even bothered to consult with the American judge who dealt with the initial allegations of violence - they are simply taking the word of the mother at face value:

...Ahmed Tabash, who is in charge of the Defensoría press office also said that the agency had not talked to the U.S. judge involved in the case nor to the husband who is in Missouri.

That really does not look good and the motivation of the Defensoria has got to be seriously questionned for acting as it has - after all, where were they for the last 2 years as the Costya Rican courts moved again and again to return this kidnapped 100% American child back home to the US?

Only a couple of weeks ago, Atwel stated in numerous public forums, including Bring Sean Home, that she was planning to return and raising money from donations to effectuate this and post any bail money she needed to post given there is an outstanding kidnapping warrant for her in MO. It was only after the Costa Rican judge got fed-up with her antics and moved to enforce the return order that Atwell played the refugee card.

But my question here is- if Atwell was so terrified, so frightened of Koyama that she could even qualify as a refugee - why was she telling everyone she was ready to return?

It seems Trina is only frightened when she isn't getting her own way.

I also find this refugee issue troubling because of a simple fact overlooked - Trina Atwell has no custody rights in this matter whatsoever. In law, she has no rights - she simply has possession of the child (or at least she did until PANI took Emily into protective custody).

How can Atwell ask for refugee status for a child she has no custody over? It's not as if you or I could take a kid to Canada and ask to be called refugees, and by the way I'll keep the kid I kidnapped.

Sadly, this post comes on the same day the US Department of Justice issued a comprehensive report entitled, "The Crime of Family Abduction" which underlines the continuing trauma child abduction inflicts upon left-behind parents, but most of all little girls and boys like Emily Koyama.

I have tried desperately hard to find evidence AGAINST the father - Roy Koyama.

Trina Atwell, assisted by her sister, Lynette Garet, have made extensive claims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and drug addiction with multiple arrests and convictions for a plethora offenses.

Bear in mind that all these allegations have already been tested in court, both in the United States and Costa Rica - and have been thrown out. Trina Atwell was found to be neither a victim nor credible in her allegations.

Atwell and Garet's credibility has already been called into question given their false claim the father had tried to stop Trina Atwell from seeing Emily while in foster care - a blatant lie as Koyama has done no such thing. Still Garet and Atwell claims this makes Koyama a "Monster!" and they continue to claim this on their Facebook page.

I think they should be looking in the mirror given what they have done to Emily so far.

Roy Koyama - the Brutal Unvarnished Truth

I have performed exhaustive searches of public and court records, trying to find evidence of Roy's supposed addiction to drugs and a violent history of kicking the proverbial out of everyone he meets.

This is what I have discovered:

2005 - Koyama was charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor - the case was thrown out as having no probable cause -his then wife (not Trina) and he got into an argument, she called the cops and in Butte CA it is a mandatory arrest policy which means you call, they haul and someone will go to jail - in this case, as in 99% of cases the cops hauled the man off to jail. The final result was a verdict of NOT GUILTY (do you all hear that - not guilty means he never did anything to begin with)

November 1992 - Koyama got into a fight - that is, when he was in his early-20's (19 years ago) he got into a fight (not with a woman but another man) - he pled no contest and received a fine.


One fist fight 19 years ago and a marital argument blown out of proportion. None of which involved Trina Atwell in the slightest degree.

Now where are all these drug convictions and violent crime convictions Koyama has supposed to have committed?

Unless they are even further back in time which takes them before computers were invented (I mean - a 19 year old misdemeanor conviction justifies kidnapping a kid overseas...come on Atwell, pull the other leg it has bells on) - I cannot find anything to show Koyama is not a fit parent.

But then on the other hand....

Trina Atwell:
  • Model Mother - kidnapped youngest daughter overseas to Costa Rica - abandoned another daughter behind in the United States;
  • Model Wife - marries a Costa Rican man apparently for a green card, leaves him shortly thereafter and has Emily with Roy - leaves Roy for someone else, not her husband - eventually reunites with husband after kidnapping Emily to Costa Rica where he just happens to be and she needs someone to look after her;
  • Model Witness - loses her case in 2 courts in 2 countries - claims allegations which still go unsupported by any evidence except her word, repeatedly shown to be thoroughly dishonest in making false claims and allegations;
  • Model Role Model - despite claims of heavy substance abuse against the father, which seems to be a load of balls, Trina has an issue with alcohol;
  • Model Home Provider - since being taken to Costa Rica, Emily Koyama has been shuttled between different addresses and locations as Trina Atwell sought to hide and manipulate the Costa Rican legal process - something other left-behind parents will be well aware of from their own experiences; and
  • Model People - Henner Chavarria, the several times cuckolded husband is also no stranger to alcohol it seems.
I don't like saying these things - there is no pleasure in any of this whatsoever - not least because this is Day 9 of a poor, frightened little girl sleeping in foster care, somewhere in Costa Rica, when she should be sound asleep back home in Springfield Missouri....and would be except for her appallingly behaved mother who cares about her so very between partying like there is no tomorrow left

Now I am off to vomit.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Emily Koyama - Update on Costa Rican Abduction

Trina Atwell & sister, Lynette Garet Play on Costa Rican Emotions
Claim Father Filed for an Injunction Preventing Mother from Seeing Emily in Foster Care

This is Day 8 of Emily Koyama being in foster care.

Wherever or whoever you are, tonight you will hopefully know where your children are.

We know where Emily Koyama is, or at least we know she is in protective custody to stop her kidnapping mother and sister, Lynette Garet from hiding Emily again.

On Trina Atwell's Facebook page - Keep Emily Safe in Costa Rica - largely administered by Atwell's sister, Lynette Garet, there are a number of claims made to supporters with the simple intention of stirring emotions and garnering sympathy.

One claim I will deal with now - Garet claims Roy Koyama filed for an injunction in Costa Rica to stop Emily's kidnapping mother from seeing her:





For those who have been leaving the odd pro-Trina comment on my blog - thank you - even bad comments are better than none.

We are all in a situation where Trina's word is what is carrying this - she claims all sorts of things - on NO EVIDENCE and 2 LOSSES IN 2 COUNTRIES COURTS.

If she is lying to you about this what else is she lying about - and remember where Emily Koyama is sleeping tonight - get past the dogma and see the child.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Virginia International Child Abduction Bill Garners Unanimous Votes

The proposed international child abduction Bill I drafted for the Virginia legislature, and which my colleague, Brandy Bond and I have put to the legislature, continues to move through both the VA Senate and House of Delegates.

So far the votes have been unanimous in both Senate and the House.

The Senate voted on SB1141 on Februrary 3rd and with a full Senate voting the decision was a unanimous 40 votes for:

The Virginia House of Delegates also voted in full session on HB2361 on February 4th and again there was a unanimous vote (only one delegate did note vote as they were absent:

The Bill could become law as early as this week. Good news for left-behind parents in Virginia.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Emily Koyama - Mother Claims Domestic Violence

Emily Koyama was abducted to Costa Rica in February, almost two years ago. Emily only 2 years old today and was a very young baby when when her mother, Trina Atwell kidnapped her from Springfield Missouri.

Trina Atwell has made a string of allegations against the father, Roy Koyama.

The first allegation is Roy was physically and sexually abusive. Atwell is unclear in her allegations on whether Roy was abusive towards her or to Emily or both.

What is beyond dispute is Atwell has been making allegations and claiming to have evidence in the form of police records and such. Despite 2 years elapsing, Atwell has so far shown no inclination to disclose her evidence, either to the US or Costa Rican courts and certainly not to anyone else.

Needless to say, Atwell and her supporters are quite happy to continue making these allegations.

The second set of allegations claims Roy Koyama is a drug addict. Again, Trina Atwell claims to have evidence, but it is not forthcoming.

Trina Atwell's Character

Trina Atwell comes across as an articulate young woman. Her recent performance on a Youtube video makes it clear that she is well-presented and knows her lines very well.

The lack of any evidence against Roy - which she claims to have - is deeply disturbing.

Is Trina being untruthful?

I think so, and here are my reasons why.

Trina Atwell is a Recovering Alcoholic

Far from the image of being a paragon of American motherhood, Trina has her own demons. Atwell is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous in her efforts to handle her addiction to alcohol, in which she should be supported.

It is Atwell's issue with alcohol, fueled by her partying lifestyle which is well documented on her Facebook website, which caused issues in the Koyama household.

Trina is a Party Girl

Visiting Atwell's Facebook pages, they are replete with photos of bar and club scenes. Trina by any standards is a good looking woman, however where was Emily while Trina was partying the night away.

Young babies need mom and dad at home to look after them.....sober!

Trina Cheated on Her Husband, Henner Chavarria

Henner Chavarria married Trina Atwell, which is why Trina sometimes hyphenates her name to Atwell-Chavarria.

Atwell left the Henner Chavarria and took up with Roy - by whom she had Emily.

After leaving Roy amidst her theatrical claims of being abused, she took up with Chavarria (by now in Costa Rica) where she left off - the pair having never divorced.

Let's be clear - Trina marries, has a baby by another man and returns with baby to her husband.

Atwell is not a model wife either.

Atwell has Abandoned another Daughter

Emily is not Atwell's first child. Atwell has another daughter in California, whom she abandoned. In addition to eluding justice in the US with the kidnapping of Emily Koyama to Costa Rica, Atwell has abandoned her eldest daughter in America.

Roy Koyama on the other hand appears to be someone else than the pill popping, Trina bashing fiend he's been painted out to be. He is the father of two sons form a previous marriage, with whom he has extensive visitation - I know because I've seen them on Skype video. They are hardly the picture of threatened children and Roy is hardly the picture of an abusive man.

Roy has also followed the law - Trina has not and she has lost in both the United States and Costa Rica. To lose in two countries legal systems is a sign you need to wake up, but in Atwell's case and those supporting her, it simply means let's find something else to do to get around this.

Meanwhile, while Trina games the system, Emily is in a foster care system in Costa Rica instead of being home with her father in America (and Roy Koyama is the one with the custody order - not Trina Atwell).

Perhaps those claiming Trina Atwell is a wronged mother should take another look.

Meanwhile, the process in Costa Rica grinds on. While the courts have so far sided with Roy Koyama and ordered the return of the child, Atwell in tandem with several women's rights groups in Costa Rica and the US, has been mounting a rear guard campaign to keep Emily in Costa Rica.

A media campaign is being waged in Costa Rica by Atwell and her supporters to persuade public opinion to keep Emily in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has so far refused to return any child to the US under the Hague Convention and Emily Koyama would be the first.

I sincerely hope that the Costa Rican authorities, and most of all ordinary Costa Ricans understand that Emily is the victim here - a victim of abuse at the hands of an alcoholic mother, who cheated on her husband, who has abandoned another child and is a fugitive from justice.

Who you and I believe between Roy Koyama and Trina Atwell is not the point - Emily has been kidnapped to Costa Rica by Trina Atwell. Emily Koyama should be returned quickly to let the American courts decide what to do with an American child, who has no connection to Costa Rica, except to have been kidnapped there by a blue-eyed, 100% homegrown American gringa.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Statement of Ken Thompson - Father of Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson was abducted from Australia by his mother. Ken changed his life drastically - vowing to find Andrew, he took early retirement from his job with the fire service and quite literally got on his bike.

Ken cycled through the UK and across Europe to raise awareness of his missing son's plight.

Ken found Andrew and recently returned to Australia after a successful Hague Convention hearing, which incidentally took place in the Hague - Andrew was located in Holland last year.

The following is the official statement from Ken regarding what happened and the outcome - a happy one at least this time.

Monday 31 January 2011


Thank you all for attending. I am indebted to the media and my many supporters here and around the world for the success of my three-year quest to find my son and bring him home.

I know you are all interested in hearing about what has happened since Andrew was found in The Netherlands in September last year. Due to my undertaking to the Dutch Courts and restrictions imposed by the Family Court of Australia now that we are back in Australia I am unable to give you a lot of information.
What I can say is this:

Andrew was found whilst attending a school in Amsterdam on 6 September last year when an alert teacher became suspicious and entered the words "Missing child Australia" into Google. She quickly discovered Andrew's website and was assured by the extensive media reports that were posted there that the Dutch authorities needed to be alerted immediately. The authorities and Interpol acted very quickly and from that date until 5 December 2010 he was cared for in a Dutch Child Protection facility.

In May 2008, following his abduction on 24 April 2008, I made an application under the Hague Convention to have Andrew returned to Australia. However, his location was unknown for over two years. Once he was discovered in The Netherlands the application could progress. My application was eventually heard on 30 November 2010 by five judges at the District Court in The Hague who ordered his speedy return. That decision was appealed and the appeal was heard on 13 January 2011 by four different judges at the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. This court upheld the original decision and ordered that Andrew was to be returned to Australia with me no later than 25 January 2011. Between the date Andrew was found and 5 December 2010 I visited him regularly under the professional guidance of Dutch child protection counsellors. Gradually, we re-established our previously warm and loving relationship. On 6 December 2010 Andrew was released into my care until travel preparations could be made. We spent our first Christmas together for three years.

Once I had the necessary travel documents, Andrew and I left The Netherlands on 18 January 2011 and returned to Australia on 24 January 2011. That is all I can say about Andrew, now or in the future. 1 would like to thank all the thousands of people and the many government agencies and missing children organisations around the world who supported me in my global search for my son, which I have been told is the biggest successful international search for a missing person ever mounted. I am not a wealthy man but I can ride a bike. So instead of chartering a jet and searching the world, I took my bike to Europe and started pedalling. I carried Andrew's favourite soft toy on my handlebars. I prayed someone would recognise his face on my cycling shirt or his web page. Someone did.

I would like to say something about the international legal mechanism, known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction that ensured that Andrew would return home.

The Hague Convention is often the only hope for left-behind parents when their child or children have been abducted across international borders. It is also the only legal mechanism to enable abducted children to be returned. The Australian Attorney General's office, which is the first call in activating a Hague Convention application receives reports of about 150 children a year being abducted overseas by a parent, without the consent or knowledge of the left-behind parent. This means that EVERY YEAR, at least three Australian families EVERY WEEK are going through the pain and loss that Andrew and I experienced. The scale of the problem at the international level is measured in thousands of children every year and these figures are increasing.

This problem is compounded in Australia because unless parenting matters are before the courts International Parental Child Abduction is not a criminal offence in this country. This creates enormous difficulties for parents of abducted children, because Australian agencies are not automatically empowered to carry out investigations within Australia that could lead to the location of their children. Often, the parent whose child has been abducted has to try to pick up the investigative threads themselves while bearing the enormous financial and emotional costs associated with locating their children.

This situation needs to change and requests have been made to the Attorney-General by myself, several law reform associations, parenting groups, and missing children organisations asking that the Australian Government seriously reconsiders its position about criminalisation of this heinous act, which amounts to child abuse. To make matters worse, it is not known how many more international parental child abductions from Australia go unreported or how many children are taken to countries that are not signatories to The Convention. It is suspected that the numbers are at least equal to those cases that are reported to the authorities.

Although there were some difficulties, The Hague Convention was successfully applied in Andrew's case. However, one concern held by myself and many other parents around the world is that The Convention, ratified in 1984, has not kept pace with international social, cultural, and political changes and that its ability to return children who have been abducted is being adversely affected by these changes.

We are also concerned that there are still many countries that are not signatories to The Convention. Governments around the world owe it to our children to make sure the Convention is updated as quickly as possible to reflect these changes to make sure it retains its original intent to return abducted children to their countries of habitual residence as quickly as possible, and to ensure that as many countries as possible sign-up to The Convention to increase the likelihood of these children being returned.

I am now calling on the Australian Government to play a key role in having the Convention reviewed to better reflect today's world and to encourage as many countries as possible to become signatories to the Convention. This will increase the likelihood of abducted children being located and returned as quickly as possible. I am also asking that the Australian Government carries out an urgent review of its position about the criminalisation of International Parental Child Abduction.

Andrew's international plight has now come to an end and the Australian media was instrumental in making that happen, along with their colleagues in many other countries. However, I would now like to ask the national and international media to please respect Andrew's privacy and give him a chance to be a normal little Aussie boy once more.

Thank you for coming
Ken Thompson