Foreign Affairs:

Federal Response to International Parental Child Abductions

T-NSIAD-00-44: Published: Oct 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1999.

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Benjamin F. Nelson
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the federal response to international parental child abductions, focusing on: (1) problems with the federal government's response to parental child abduction; and (2) how the federal government is attempting to improve its response.

GAO noted that: (1) there are a number of problems and issues related to the federal response to international child abduction; (2) these problems have been identified by the key agencies involved--the Departments of State and Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children--as well as left-behind parents and others; (3) together, they present obstacles to left-behind parents in their attempts to locate, gain access to, and return their children; (4) four problems and issues have received substantial attention: (a) gaps in federal services to left-behind parents, which make it difficult for parents to recover their abducted children; (b) weaknesses within the existing State Department case-tracking process, which impair case and program coordination; (c) lack of systematic and aggressive diplomatic efforts to improve international responses to parental child abductions; and (d) limited use of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 to pursue abducting parents and bring them to justice; (5) the State and Justice Departments have developed recommendations, which they believe will address most of the problems if implemented; (6) while GAO found that action has been taken to implement a number of the recommendations, many await further action and most require resource commitments; (7) in addition, some of the recommended actions are not expected to be implemented for several years; and (8) these shortcomings raise questions about the likelihood the recommendations will be put in place.

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