Ask the Consul – March 2018

Question:

My former wife took my son to the United States for Christmas vacation and has not brought him back to Trinidad. I am concerned because she is now not accepting my calls or answering emails. What advice can the U.S. Embassy offer?

Fearful parent

Answer:

If your child was abducted to the United States, we recommend you contact Trinidad and Tobago’s Central Authority – International Office of Child Rights & Civil Child Abduction Authority, the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in the United States, Trinidad and Tobago law enforcement, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, and the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

First, you should contact the local authorities in Trinidad and Tobago. The International Office of Child Rights and Civil Child Abduction Authority may help you process an application for access to or the return of your child under the Hague Convention. Both the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago are treaty partners under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which serves to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent, and encourages the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence. For more information on why the Hague Convention matters, visit our website at travel.state.gov. The International Office of Child Rights and Civil Child Abduction Authority is located at the Ministry of the Attorney General on St. Vincent Street in Port of Spain, or online at www.hcch.net.

You can also contact the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Your Trinidad and Tobago Embassy or Consulate representative may be able to provide a list of attorneys and may be able to visit your child in the United States.

Next, you should contact the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). TTPS is a member of INTERPOL, the world’s largest police organization, and can provide assistance with issuing an INTERPOL Missing Child (Yellow) Notice, which will enter your child into the U.S. National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Based on this notice, law enforcement in the United States may assist in locating the child. Law enforcement authorities in Trinidad and Tobago can also help you determine if the parent that took your child to the United States has violated local laws.

The U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues may also assist you. Officers in the Office of Children’s Issues can help accept applications from Trinidad and Tobago’s Central Authority for return of, or access to your child, assist you in locating your child within the United States, attempt to achieve a voluntary return or voluntary access; they also assist with the safe return of children to their country of habitual residence. The Office of Children’s Issues can assist you with many aspects of your case, whether the Hague Convention applies or not, but they are unable to physically pick up your child in the United States or provide any form of legal advice, including representing you in court. 

Additional resources and services are available from the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Visit NCMEC’s website at www.missingkids.com for more information.

Parents who are in this situation should seek official information as soon as possible, more information and links to the above-mentioned resources are available on the U.S. Embassy website at tt.usembassy.gov or the U.S. Department of State’s website at travel.state.gov.