More protection for kids in custody disputes
The Government is seeking to put measures in place to better protect children entangled in custody disputes between parents, particularly in cases of abduction.
These measures include strengthening the law which deals with the issue - the Children (Guardianship and Custody) (Amendment) Act , 2016 - which members of the Senate approved on Friday, following a five-hour debate.
The Bill seeks to give effect to the government's decision to enact legislation to implement the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to facilitate Jamaica's accession to it.
The Hague Convention aims to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international borders by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.
Piloting the Bill, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Kamina Johnson Smith, stressed that "the time for this law has come," noting that while work on the legislation has continued across administrations, the matter has taken too long to be finalised.
She noted that the Bill is critical, given that the incidences of child abduction continue to pose a serious challenge, in light of the ease of international travel, the rise in divorce rates, among other issues.
"The location, recovery, and return of abducted children are made more difficult because children are sometimes removed and taken to states with different legal systems, different cultural, and social structures," she said.
Johnson Smith noted that the enactment of this law will allow for the expeditious return of children wrongfully removed from their custodial parent and usual place of residence.
"It will also bring an earlier end to the emotionally draining situations, while providing legal certainty as much as possible in family law cases," she said.
The Bill will be sent to the Lower House for debate and approval next week.