Frank Arndt discusses international child abduction on ITV Daybreak
She is the Slough mother, originally from Poland, who travelled to Egypt in disguise to snatch her daughter back, two years after her estranged husband ran off to the Middle Eastern country with little Mona, now aged three. According to reports, Mustafa Abou-El-Ella simply told his wife that he was taking Mona to visit friends, and then flew out of the country.
After a very long two years, determined to be get her daughter back, Aleksandra and campaigner Donya Al-Nahi located Mona. Disguised in local clothing, the 29 year-old then snatched her daughter from the street before flying back to the UK.
Why couldn’t Aleksandra resort to more conventional legal means? Unfortunately Britain has no extradition treaty with Egypt and the country has also yet to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a major treaty which allows children abducted from one country into another by a parent to be quickly returned. As Frank noted, the one legal agreement concerning child abduction which we do have in place with Egypt, the Cairo Declaration, is a simply a ‘memorandum’, a statement of well-intentioned legal principles but one which has yet to generate a single return from the country. In such circumstances, trusted local contacts can make all the differences.
Frank noted that this case is both exceptional, in the circumstances and lengths to which Aleksandra was prepared to go, and just one of thousands of similar cases every year. In Frank’s words: “The international legal system let her down. The two years she was waiting is two years too long”.
Children can be returned from Hague Convention countries within 48 hours. “The system is working, but in Egypt it is not working, so I can totally understand as a lawyer, as a father, how she feels.”
Frank has developed a global trusted legal network which is always important in child abduction cases and which can help to avoid lengthy delays.
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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