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Sweden to tighten child abduction laws

Sweden to tighten child abduction laws

Published: 09 Dec 2013 14:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2013 14:36 GMT+01:00

The Swedish government is set to tighten the law to prevent lone parents from abducting or keeping their children hidden from the other parent.

Legislation covering the offence "arbitrary conduct with a child" (egenmäktighet med barn) is set to be tightened following a series of high-profile cases in recent years, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

The Local reported on a story from 2009 featuring an Australian father and Swedish mother.

Ann-Louise Valette was convicted of arbitrary conduct with a child (egenmäktighet med barn) in July 2009 after her sons failed to return to Australia after a visit to Sweden the autumn before.

Valette had lost custody of the children to the boys’ father George Pésor in 2004.

Another high-profile case from 2001 involved a father who took two of his children on holiday to Somalia and returned without them. The children were then kept in Somalia for several years against the will of the mother.

The man was in this case acquitted by the Supreme Court in 2006 due to the fact that the trip to Somalia had been agreed upon by both parents.

The governing Alliance parties are now in agreement that the law must be changed in response to a situation where many parents feel powerless to intervene, according to the SvD report.

A tightening of the law is supported by the Swedish Prosecution Authority (Riksåklagaren) and an review of the current legislation has been completed with the recommendation that the criminal liability for the offence is insufficient.

It was furthermore recommended that wrongful detention be criminalized.

According to statistics from the National Crime Prevention Council (Brottsförebygganderådet, Brå), cited by the newspaper, the number of reports of the offence arbitrary conduct with a child have increased steadily since 1975, with 1,924 cases reported in 2012.

As the offence requires that the children are taken to another country, practical problems are likely to remain for parents seeking to locate their missing children.

George Pésor’s quest to locate his son, for example, required several trips to Sweden, an international arrest warrant, and a great deal of persistence in his contact with the Swedish police.

The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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