Aug 10, 2009

Almost 500 children abducted from Britain each year

An estimated 470 youngsters were abducted in 336 separate cases reported to authorities in 2008, a 20 per cent increase on 2005 figures, according to data obtained by the newspaper under freedom of information laws.

More children were taken illegally to Pakistan than anywhere else, with 30 cases, while 23 were taken to the United States, 22 to Ireland and 21 to Spain.

Other abduction hotspots included Australia, France and Egypt, the Guardian said.

Abductions usually occur when marriages break down between couples of different nationalities, and the parent not awarded legal custody kidnaps their children and flees abroad, it said.

The cases are not normally publicised because they are dealt with in the family courts where reporting restrictions apply to any cases involving the welfare of minors.

The British government has little power to intervene in around 40 percent of all abduction cases as they involve children being taken to countries not a signatory to the Hague convention.

The international treaty obliges nations to promptly return children wrongfully detained in their jurisdiction.

Cases involving non-treaty countries include Bangladesh, Iraq, Nigeria and Russia, it said. —AFP

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