Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th District), who became an active advocate for reuniting Sean Goldman with his father, David Goldman, of Tinton Falls, introduced a bill in the House last June that would give support to families whose children have been abducted.
David Goldman’s struggle to regain custody of his 9-year-old son Sean ended Dec. 23 when Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled that Goldman should be reunited with Sean after a five-year legal fight with the child’s Brazilian relatives.
Smith’s bill called on Brazil, in accordance with its obligations under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to expedite “as a matter of extreme urgency” the return of Sean to his father in the U.S.
Smith’s bill recommends “that all other nations, including Japan, that have unresolved international child abduction cases join the Hague Convention and establish procedures to promptly and equitably address the tragedy of international child abductions.”
If enacted, the International Child Abduction Prevention Act would appoint an ambassador whose duty would be to pursue abduction cases. It also would give the president and U.S. State Department the power to punish noncompliant countries with sanctions.
Goldman’s lawyer, Patricia Apy, spoke of the action taken by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who placed a hold on a bill last month that would allow Brazil and other countries to export some products duty-free to the U.S.
“Unfortunately, Sean Goldman is not the only young American that has been abducted to the country of Brazil and kept there against the wishes of parents and immediate family. An estimated 65 other young American children are there in blatant violation of international law. The leadership of Brazil must understand that there will be consequences if they continue to let their country become a haven for people who abduct children to avoid meeting the terms of divorce and custody agreements,” Kyrillos wrote in an email.
“Brazil is a sophisticated country that plays an important role in the world economy and has been designated the host of the Olympic games in 2016. It is absurd for Brazil to risk its standing among the world’s nations by flaunting just laws,” he added.
“This most recent decision by Brazilian Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes is the culmination of years of hard work and struggle by so many people, especially David Goldman and Rep. Chris Smith, who took on David’s mission as his own. It’s so heartening to see that justice is being served and that David will soon have his son home after so many years without him,” read a statement from state Sen. Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande.
“Although this case has been successfully resolved, thousands of American families who have been victimized by international parental child abduction are not so fortunate. Those families also need our government’s help, and last week I wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer asking that they expedite consideration of legislation designed to help those parents,” wrote Holt.
“I am asking that as soon as the House reconvenes you bring to the floor for expedited consideration all legislation currently pending before the House dealing with the issue of international parental child abduction. Further, the House should not take up any legislation that would benefit countries like Brazil that are assessed by the State Department to be exhibiting a pattern of noncompliance with the Hague Convention,” Holt wrote.
“While Mr. Goldman represents thousands of families torn apart by such abductions, my concern also extends to the families whose children have been abducted to countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention,” Holt stated.
“Accordingly,” Holt wrote to the House leaders, “I ask that you work with the relevant committee chairman to merge the best features of these bills into a single bill … and that the consolidated bill be passed as quickly as possible. Congress must act on behalf of America’s families on this important, heart-breaking issue. Let us take swift action that will help reunite these families.”
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