Russia Introduces Special Courts for Hague Convention Cases on International Child Abduction

Russia will establish special courts to adjudicate cases involving international child abduction cases, Deputy Minister for Education and Science Veneiamin Kaganov told RIA Novosti Monday.

In 2011, Russia joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which aims to facilitate the immediate retrieval of children unlawfully transported to any of the 87 member states of the Convention.

Earlier in February, the Parliament of Russia a passed a bill establishing a review procedure for cases concerning the return of children, and granting custody rights.

Russia has seen a number of international custody rows, including several with France and Finland.

Irina Belenkaya, a Russian national accused of child abduction and orchestrating an attack on her ex-husband Andre, received a two-year suspended sentence in a French court in 2012. The couple has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle resulting in their daughter Elise being “kidnapped” back and forth three times in 2007-2009. Andre was  awarded custody by a French court after their divorce in 2007.

Several similar cases have arisen in Finland following the introduction of a 2008 law stating that children should be taken from their families immediately, where mistreatment is suspected.

Rimma Salonen’s case was one of the first public scandals to emerge involving Russian-Finnish children. After Salonen brought her son Anton back to Russia, he was again returned to Finland in the trunk of a diplomat’s car three years ago by his father Paavo Salonen and diplomat Simo Pietilainen, who have escaped criminal liability in Finland. Rimma Salonen was deprived of her parental rights by a Finnish court and received a suspended sentence for child abduction after her divorce from Paavo.

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