|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN CONGRATULATES
LEFT-BEHIND PARENT ON LEGAL VICTORY
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The National Center for Missing & Exploited
Children (NCMEC) congratulates Tom Sylvester, a parent of an internationally
abducted child, on his victory in the European Court of Human Rights.
Sylvester, on behalf of himself and his daughter Carina, brought suit against
the country of Austria in the European Court of Human Rights, stating that Austria
denied them their human rights as enumerated under the European Convention for
the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, which included the return
of his daughter from Austria under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects
of International Child Abduction.
Carina was abducted from Michigan by her mother in 1995 and taken to Austria.
While the court of first instance in Austria found that Carina was wrongfully
removed from the U.S. and ordered her return, the case was appealed and delayed
due to the lack of enforcement of the order of return. Ultimately the Austrian
Supreme Court did not enforce the final return order as Carina had become acclimated
to her new environment.
The European Court of Human Rights concluded that the Austrian authorities
failed to take, without delay, all the measures that could reasonably be expected
to enforce the return order, and thereby breached the applicants’ right
to respect for their family life. The Court ordered the Austrian government
to award approximately $47,000 to Sylvester to cover the costs and expenses
of his legal battle, in addition to non-pecuniary damages.
“This is a moral and ethical victory. However, this does not now mean
that Carina will be able to have a normal relationship with her father. The
United States still needs cooperation from the Austrian government to achieve
that. This decision merely vindicates Tom’s position and places Austria
on notice that it needs to improve its implementation of the Hague Convention
for this family and those families to come,” said Ernie Allen, president
NCMEC, a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works in cooperation with
the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention. NCMEC was established in 1984 as a public-private partnership to
help find missing children and combat child sexual exploitation. Since September
1995, NCMEC has handled 3,143 cases under the Hague Convention on the Civil
Aspects of International Child Abduction for the U.S. Department of State, resulting
in the return of 2,211 children. For more information about NCMEC, call 1-800-THE-LOST,
or visit www.missingkids.com.