With kids abducted by foreign-born individuals, the temptation would be to equate the term “child abduction” with the term “abused children.” In all fairness, abuse – be it physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or even simple neglect – is a definite risk for kids abducted in foreign countries.
Abused children are common in instances where lawlessness or statelessness abound, as with the continent of Africa prone to much in-fighting and guerrilla warfare, where child soldiers are routinely berated and beaten to force their compliance. Austria is also no stranger to high-profile cases where abused children have publicly come out to talk about their cases of being kidnapped.
Natascha Kampusch, for one, was held by a stranger in a cellar for some eight years before escaping captivity and rising to prominence as the host of her own show. More infamously, Josef Fritzl was accused and convicted of keeping his daughter in his basement for over 20 years, during which time he assaulted, abused and raped her, and his daughter gave birth to seven of their children.
However, not all examples of child abduction result in abused children. Kids abducted by a parent may suffer no ill bodily or mental effects in the wake of being taken against provisions of family law. In this sense, the only “abused children” are those whose rights are abused by legal systems.
Going back to Austria, as with Brazil, its laws and adjudication of the laws governing child abduction should be made simpler by the fact it has approved provisions of the Hague Convention treaty on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Unfortunately, likewise as with Brazil, Austrian interpretation of the Hague Convention in cases of kids abducted by a parent may unduly override the legal restraints of international law.
Seeing as the Hague Convention only decides to return kids abducted by a parent to a foreign land to the country from whence they came, no merit should be given to any other underlying issues in the case. However, in Austria, the court system often places what it deems as “the best interests of the child” above all else, when in Hague cases, it should not and should merely uphold the law as it reads.
Aside from this, Austrian law does not have a reliable means of putting court orders into effect that invoke Hague Convention protocol and seek the return of kids abducted wrongfully. Thus, a court order that may have taken one parent thousands of dollars to litigate may amount to a worthless scrap of paper if not enforced.