Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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

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