If the grandparents from Brazil do show up in the United States (they never will) one can only hope that the US government and the FBI takes a lead role in the prosecution of violations of US Code against family kidnappings and conspiracy to kidnap that “protective parents” deserve.
New Jersey dad’s Brazilian in-laws keep fighting
In a development that practically no one saw coming, the Brazilian family of Sean Goldman, the boy who had been the center of a five-year international dispute arising out of the Hague Convention, has reneged on their earlier declaration of surrender and now says that they will continue their fight to have the boy become a permanent resident of Brazil. But exactly what recourse remains to them under international law remained far from clear.
// // Silvana Bianchi, the mother of Bruna Bianchi, who brought her son to Brazil five years ago for a “two-week vacation” that never ended, announced today, through her attorneys, that she will continue to sue for permanent custody of Sean Goldman, their previous declaration of surrender notwithstanding, according to the Associated Press. Last week, after the Chief Justice of Brazil ordered the boy returned to his father, Bianchi wrote a desperate letter to the President of Brazil, asking him to intervene personally and reminding him that grandparents often assume custody of minor children whose parents have died.
Today Bianchi asked the Supreme Court of Brazil to allow Sean to testify in a Brazilian court as to his wishes and desires regarding which family he would prefer to live with. The Supreme Court denied that request, but the full Court has not heard the matter, because it is in recess. The full Court will reconvene in February of 2010.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions does state that an abducted child–that is, one taken from one country to another without the permission of the custodial parent in the country of origin–may object to a return to country of origin, and make that objection known in open court, if he is old and mature enough to give such evidence. Most international legal experts say that a child younger than the age of twelve is, by definition, not old enough within the meaning of the Hague Convention. Sean Goldman is nine years old.
More curiously still, Sean Goldman has now returned to the United States and, by this account on ABC-TV, is happy to be on American soil and in fact gives every sign of remembering the original family home from which he had been abducted, and even the family pet cat. (David Goldman, his father, had not moved in the interim.) The only sour note is that the boy has not yet taken to addressing his father as “Dad,” but that might still come.
Thus the Bianchi family is in the curious position of attempting to have a formerly abducted and now-returned child repatriated from the country of origin to the country of destination, a thing for which virtually no precedent exists in international law. Even if the Supreme Court of Brazil rules in Bianchi’s favor, an American court, and especially a New Jersey court, would have to rule on the applicability of such an order, and particularly on what power a foreign court would have to compel an American lawful resident, now on American soil, to appear before it.
Goldman’s attorney, Patricia Apy, said that the continued legal wrangling might affect what rights the Bianchis have to visit with the boy. As of this moment, no member of the Brazilian family has many any specific request to visit with Sean in the United States.
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