On September 16, 1998 – 3 year old Amelia and 2 year old Daniel went to Poland (Gdansk) on a 4-month vacation with their mother, Alicja Holly-Szuta. On November 28th during the phone conversation mother of the children has announced to the father that is had filed for a divorce and refused to return with children back to California. Below are listed events that have taken place since then.
- September 16, 1998 – 3 year old Amelia and 2 year old Daniel went to Poland (Gdansk) on a 4-month vacation with their mother, Alicja Holly-Szuta.
- November 28, 1998 – Mother notified the father about filing for a divorce(November 3, 1998), and refused to return with the children to USA.
- August 8, 1999 – Hague Convention case was filed by the father with the Polish Central Authorities in Warsaw.
- September 16, 1999 – Regional Court judge issued a decision for Amelia and Daniel to be returned to their father in California.
- April 14, 2000 – Appeals District Court in Gdansk sent the case back to the Regional Court with a directive to establish emotional ties between the father and the children. The Appeal District Court used the Article 13(!) of the treaty to justify its decision.
- October, 2000 – U.S. Central Authorities demanded an explanation from Poland why the case has not yet been decided.
- November, 2000 – Polish Central Authorities sent a fax falsely claiming that the case was being delayed due to the father’s demands to call additional witnesses(!).
- December 16, 2000 – Judge of the Regional Court in Gdansk still insisted for the father to undergo psychological and parental evaluation and refused to issue a ruling.
- February 2001 – After another protest letter from the father and the U.S. Central Authorities, Polish court set a new court hearing for March 9, 2001.
- February 28, 2001- Father sent a demand to the Polish Central Authorities for an appointment of a prosecutor in the case to ensure that the Hague Convention laws were upheld.
- March 9, 2001 – The Regional Court held another hearing in Gdansk during which no decision was made and the presiding judge ordered another hearing for March 26, 2001.
- March 26, 2001 – The Judge of the Regional Court has announced her decision to refuse father’s application under the Hague Convention treaty. In her decision she decided that by removing children from their mother would constitute “grave harm” to the children. She confirmed the illegality of mother’s action. Father is appealing this decision
- The appeal case hearing took place in Gdańsk on June 27, 2001. The judge announced that the court would rule on the case on July 11, 2001.
- July 11, 2001 – The District Appeals Court in Gdansk reverses the Regional Court’s decision from March 28 2001 and orders return of Amelia and Daniel back to the U.S.
- November 09, 2001 -The Regional Court in Gdansk issues the execution order – children are to be turned over to my custody in 3 days.
Alicja Holly-Szuta leaves voice messages asking the father not ask the court to issue for the order to forceful execution of the order
- November 12 – a friend of Alicja Holly-Szuta leaves a voice message confirming that the children would be turned over peacefully the next day.
- November 13, 2001 – Alicja Holly-Szuta does not show for the meeting with the father of the children. Her mother refuses to tell where the children and their mother are.
- November 14, 2001 – the father requests that the Regional Court in Gdansk issues appropriate instructions to the police to implement the transfer of the children.
- December 15, 2001 – The D.A. office opened an investigation after the notification from the police that the children and their mother cannot be found
- December 18, 2001 – a Superexpress article is published about Amelia and Daniel and their abduction.
- January 29, 2002 – the father returns to California to seek help with the U.S. law enforcement authorities.
- March 18, 2002 – after few attempts the court appointed social worker is finally able to talk to the mother of the abductor, and she is told that Amelia and Daniel were moved 11 times since November 2001!.
- May 5, 2002 – The Polish Supreme Court rejects a request for an appeal by Alicja Holly-Szuta
- In 2005 – Polish court issued a competing order in the divorce case to stay the return order for return,citing that it may no longer be in the children’s best interest to be returned because of the length of time that has elapsed. The American government viewed this as being in direct contravention to the convention. Father appealed this ruling.
- June 26,2008 – The Appeal Court in Gdańsk confirmed illegal decision of lower court, which directly contravened with the final Hague Convention decision issued on July 11, 2001. The father was stripped from parental rights since he … doesn’t live in Poland. Mother’s rights have been limited as the court recognized her systematic interference into the relationship of the father with the children(!).
- Since late 2007 the father tried (with no success) to negotiate a meeting with his children. Any attempt was met with refusal. During his visit at children school he was harassed by the mother and the school officials who called the police on him, and new criminal charges were filed by the mother against him in Poland to effectively exclude him from contacting his children . To this day, both children refused any contact with the father.
- The father appealed to different branches of Polish government since than.
- In a meantime, Polish courts have already tried to enforce their child support orders multiple times , with no success. The father still holds full physical and legal custody of the children in California, and the state refused the cooperation with Poland. In addition, since late 2003, the mother is considered a fugitive by the state, after having been provided multiple warnings and chances to remedy the situation.
In addition, American authorities have issued appropriate notices through Interpol system for both the children and the mother. These notices are been ignored by Polish police authorities to this day.Update: I was clearly lied to by 2 different district attorney representative for years. They assured me that FBI was notified and issued appropriate Interpol notices for both children and the mother. In the beginning I blamed Polish officials for not doing their job, but the blame in this case belongs clearly to US government.
The above summarized the history of abduction, and failure of the system promised by governments who are signatories to the Hague Convention on International Parental Child Abductions. The story is not unusual, rather typical. As long as the individual governments allow by existing law for national courts have the option to ignore the law, these cases are being treated as regular custody cases, there is no reason for LBP to trust the system.
There are times that I believe that “self help” in the form of re-abduction would have been a better way of dealing in my case. I was left to my own resources as they fight for the return of the children, the same way as the other parents are. Poland among other EU countries has done virtually NOTHING in preventing the crime of parental abductions. Polish citizens who take their children back to Poland are not risking any criminal charges, and TO THIS DAY parental abductions and interference into other parent custody, in most of EU, is perfectly LEGAL. Of course, the left behind parents ARE being subjective to automatic parental rights stripping, and are virtually ensured to be extracted from their children lives. All in the name of “best interest of the child” doctrine. The doctrine which clearly says one thing, and the results do the opposite.
I believe that United State Government should reevaluate its cooperation with some countries, that for years show a total disregard towards Hague Convention compliance. Since this convention is ratified on country-by-country basis, US should break these bi-lateral agreements (for example with Poland, Germany, Mexico and others). Also, the associated agreements on child support enforcement should be invalidated as well. As long as the other sides don’t believe in US resolve to combat and they can “gain” American system, the current abuse of American children will continue.