Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taking exception: aiding and abetting criminal acts is a crime.

Parents whose children are taken across international borders have a great deal in common with parents whose children are taken by local governments and non-governmental agencies. Between these two groups is another, parents whose children are taken across state lines with intention of keeping the other parent from accessing their children.
The suffering of all these parents is similar if not essentially the same. Emotionally healthy parents always suffer when their children are harmed physically or emotionally. However, community support, whether superficial or deeply sympathetic, appears to diminish, as a child is taken further away. The greater the distance, the fewer supporters speak out. Cases like Sean Goldman’s are a well-funded exception, and that’s what it takes to get noticed: funding.
More important than a perception of “fair treatment” within this sphere of child abductions, by Gestapo-like independent agents often backed by local police, by self-empowered agents of courts, or by court judges acting in haste without due process of law – through writs – there is a real consideration of adherence to law seldom exercised. In other words, public or community perceptions of sadness, sympathies, emotional stress, and tendencies to assume that a left-behind parent is guilty of something, along with other smoke . . . very often obscures perception of and focus on numerous laws broken in the process of separating children from one or both parents. This is especially true when one parent does retain his, or more often, her relationship.
Generally, it is assumed to be a dispute in “custody,” a term I find repulsive as it means “possession,” and children are no res, to use legal jargon; a child is not an object. The most often overlooked, or ignored, fact is that all of these cases involve serious violations of law, beginning with actions of one parent and quite often members of her family. By allowing its circumstances to continue under pretense of it being a “civil dispute,” an initial crime is compounded, as those who excuse inaction aid and abet the crime.

In cases involving international child abduction, for example, one left behind parent may file a case under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. A great misunderstanding, or by a veil of words, a deception may result in erroneous assumptions that obligations of criminal law no longer apply to Hague cases. While the Office of Children’s Issues deals with civil aspects, obligations of criminal law remain. For example, under 18 U.S.C. § 1204 : US Code - Section 1204: International parental kidnapping, it is stipulated:   (a) Whoever removes a child from the United States, or attempts to do so, or retains a child (who has been in the United States) outside the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both. 
And it is critical to know:  
 (d) This section does not detract from The Hague Convention on the 
Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, done at The Hague on 
October 25, 1980.

In spite of the clearly defined criminality of these cases, there is a working consensus to overlook this criminality and dismiss cases from initial stages of prosecution. Under similar circumstances involving child abuse, law tolerates no such tendencies; teachers or counselors are obligated to report suspicions of abuse. Officers of the court, including attorneys, are obligated to report known commissions of crimes, yet parental kidnapping, abduction, or “custodial interference” is routinely dismissed as a civil dispute.  

In effect, this veil of deception amounts to willful continuation of the illicit circumstances: 

4.18.02 Aid and Abet, 18 U.S.C. § 2 See Statute
To “aid and abet” means intentionally to help someone else commit a crime. To establish aiding and abetting, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
that someone else committed the charged crime; and that a person consciously shared the other person’s knowledge of the underlying criminal act, intended to help him or her, and willfully took part in continuing the crime, influencing to make it succeed.
A person need not perform the underlying criminal act, be present when it is performed, or be aware of the details of its execution to be guilty of aiding and abetting.
An act is done “willfully” if done voluntarily and intentionally with the intent that something the law forbids be done—that is to say, either to disobey or disregard the law.

This is exactly what happens when a police detective in a local jurisdiction ignores federal law pertinent to 18 U.S.C. § 1204: US Code - Section 1204: International parental kidnapping. Or, when a district attorney fails to issue a warrant under both state and federal law.  

When someone robs a bank and leaves the premises, hands of law enforcement are not tied from action as if it is a civil dispute between the bank and its robber. When a parent leaves a country while abducting a child, law enforcement is not precluded from action to recovery the abducted child. 

Another moot argument used is that prosecution of an abducting parent will deprive a child of a parent on whom he or she depends. No one uses this absurdity to preclude someone prosecuted for marijuana possession from imprisonment, nor are mothers who commit other felonies kept from prosecution under this deception. 

 Selective enforcement is the ability that executors of the law (such as police officers or administrative agencies, in some cases) have to arbitrarily select choice individuals as being outside of the law.
“There is a fundamental lack of equality before the law and a clear tendency towards politically motivated prosecution, namely selective enforcement, which is illegal in most democracies in the world.” Ha’Aretz 

“Historically, selective enforcement is recognized as a sign of tyranny, and an abuse of power, because it violates rule of law, allowing men to apply justice only when they choose. Aside from this being inherently unjust, it almost inevitably must lead to favoritism and extortion, with those empowered to choose being able to help their friends, take bribes, and threaten those they desire favors from.” Wikipedia

In a context of international child abduction or under any similar circumstances it is prudent to take exception to dismissal of serious crimes as personal “civil disputes.” Yes, it happens routinely. It can be fought through exposure and in courts.