The U.S. State Department has just issued its 2017 Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction under the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA). The following is the Country Summary and related information from the fourth country listed as “Noncompliant” in the report, the Dominican Republic:
Country Summary: The United States and the Dominican Republic have been partners under the Hague Abduction Convention since 2007. In 2016, the Dominican Republic demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance. Specifically, the judicial authorities in the Dominican Republic persistently failed to implement and abide by the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of this failure, 33 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the Convention have remained unresolved for more than 12 months. On average these cases have been unresolved for 16 months. The Dominican Republic has been cited as non-compliant since 2014.
Central Authority: While the United States and the Dominican Central Authority have a cooperative relationship, periodic delays in the processing of cases and inconsistent communication impacted the timely resolution of Convention cases.
Voluntary Resolution: The Convention states that central authorities “shall take all appropriate measures to secure the voluntary return of the child or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues.” In 2016, two abduction cases were resolved through voluntary means.
Location: The competent authorities regularly took appropriate steps to help locate a child after a Convention application was filed. On average, it took less than one week to locate a child.
Judicial Authorities: The Dominican judicial authorities demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance with the Convention due to serious delays at the appellate level in deciding Convention cases. Some cases have moved quickly through initial court proceedings. However, cases appealed to higher courts have taken more than four years to be resolved, including one case delayed for over four years because of the inaction of the Dominican Supreme Court. As of December 31, 2016, this case remained unresolved. Cases are generally pending with the judiciary for more than 18 months.
Enforcement: Decisions in Convention cases in the Dominican Republic were generally enforced in a timely manner.
Access: In 2016, the U.S. Central Authority had one open access case under the Convention in the Dominican Republic. This case was filed with the Dominican Central Authority. No new cases were filed in 2016. By December 31, 2016, this case (100 percent) was resolved.
Department Recommendations: The Department will intensify engagement with the Dominican authorities to address significant issues of concern and expand public diplomacy activities related to the resolution of cases. The Department will also encourage training with judicial and administrative authorities on the effective handling of international parental child abduction cases. The Department also recommends an emphasis on preventing abductions.