2006 United States Report on Hague Convention Compliance

The latest report published by the U.S. Department of State was issued in April of 2007. Poland was listed as one of 7 countries demonstrating pattern of noncompliance (one step below the “grand prize winner” of this report – Honduras.

In secion about Poland the U.S. State Department writes:

The Department finds that Poland demonstrated patterns of noncompliance in FY 2006. Specifically, Poland’s noncompliance falls in the performance of law enforcement in locating children and in enforcing the return of children or access to children under the Convention. Polish authorities continue to lack the ability to conduct nationwide searches for missing children, both prior to judicial filing and in relation to enforcement. This was at least partly because neither international parental child abduction nor willful noncompliance with return orders is a criminal offense in Poland but instead are merely civil offenses. Refusing to obey an order seems to carry few negative consequences for the taking parent. In some instances, the court rewarded the taking parent who refused to comply with a court order by ultimately ruling that, because so much time had elapsed, it was not in the child’s best interests to be returned after all.

The last sentence of the report is particularly damming, and clearly underlines how Poland is ill-equipped in securing any type of compliance with existing international law in fighting illegal transfer of children. Also, so far none of the existing Polish administrations was able to adopt any meaningful law changes that would precisely establish the guidance for Hague Convention cases in the existing law. Polish media treat EVERY case of international child abduction to Poland (by a Polish parent) as a nationalistic issue: us versus THEM. Illegality of the actions by the abducting parent to Poland is mostly “explained away”, trivialized or simply omitted. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a response from any representative of the Polish Ministry of Justice in such cases.

Nobody wants to bash Poland for the existing situation, but cases like mine (cited by in the “Notable cases” section for Poland) clearly indicate how dire the situation truly is.:

“This case is yet another example of a court ordered return that was not enforced. The Department is concerned that the case represents a trend for IPCA cases in Poland.
The taking parent abducted the children to Poland in November 1998. The left-behind parent filed a Convention application in August 1999, but on March 28, 2001, the local Court of Justice in Poland denied the return of the two children. The left-behind parent appealed the decision and on July 11, 2001, the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court decision and ordered the return of the children. On November 9, 2001, the taking parent was ordered to return the children to the left-behind parent within three days. At that time the taking parent disappeared with the children, and they have been missing ever since. The left-behind parent has traveled to Poland several times, employed the services of a private investigator, and worked with the Polish regional prosecutor to locate the children, all to no avail.


In September 2005, the USCA became aware that a Polish court, as part of a divorce case filed by the taking parent, ordered a stay of enforcement of the Convention order, 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 court then ordered psychological evaluations, so that the court could make a child custody determination. In September 2006, the USCA learned that the Polish Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the lower court. The USCA views this as being in direct contravention to the Convention. The case remains unresolved today.”

As last few above sentences show, the U.S. Department of State was way too kind in limiting the noncompliance just to the area of enforcement. Poland has to realize, that signing conventions is not enough. Fulfilling them in a timely manner is what is most important. Sometimes, I wonder why United States (or other countries) should even be interested in cooperation with countries like Poland in the field of international civil cases. It looks that the abductions to Poland are frequent and the abductors face little consequences, if any. Instead, in most Hague cases they are rewarded by Polish courts, yet Polish government expects others to fulfill their part. I don’t deny that there have been some improvements since 1998, however it seems to me, that any progress made has been lost in last 2 years. I hope I am wrong.

There are many changes that could be done to help prevent and deal with international child abductions in Poland (I would be willing to provide my own list of changes if you are interested). Polish society has become much more open with increasing number of Polish citizens entering into international marriages. By ignoring problems in enforcement of existing laws and issued court orders, Poland cannot succeed in moving forward into the 21 century. 12 long years have already passed since Poland decided to ratify the Hague Convention, and it’s been 16 years when Poland decided to enforce the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yet, (in my humble opinion) very little has been done in Poland to protect the innocence and the violence that the parental abductions cause to children. So far child abuse of parental abduction is being done to young helpless children with the silence of Polish media, approval of Polish courts and indolence of the Polish government – sad and deplorable, but true.

In a meantime – where is the media? How come they are so silent on this subject?