International Office of Child Rights

The International Office of Child Rights


The International Office of Child Rights (hereinafter referred to as the “IOCR’) is a department in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs which deals with matters related to international child law. One of its main areas of focus is parental child abduction, which is managed by the Civil Child Abduction Authority (hereinafter referred to as the “Authority”) within the department.
The Civil Child Abduction Authority was established under and by virtue of the International Child Abduction Act of 2008 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’). This Act serves to provide for the application of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Convention’) in Trinidad and Tobago and to provide for matters connected with or related thereto.
The Convention is a multilateral treaty developed in 1980 by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law that provides an expeditious method to return a child who was abducted by a parent from one member nation to another, where the child was a habitual resident.
Trinidad and Tobago became a party to the Convention in 2000. The Convention was then incorporated into Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic law via the Act.
The Authority, by virtue of s. 6 (1) of the Act, is a Central Authority established to deal with all matters relating to the civil aspects of international parental child abduction between Trinidad and Tobago and contracting territories. To date, Trinidad and Tobago has partnered with over 50 territories under the Hague Convention. The Authority is also responsible for discharging the duties which are imposed by the Convention.
This Authority is a Statutory Body which reports directly to the Honourable Attorney General and the Permanent Secretary.

What does the Authority do?

The functions of the Authority are set out by Article 7 of the Convention, either directly or through intermediary methods include:
  To take appropriate measures to discover the whereabouts of a child
    who has been wrongfully removed or retained;
  To prevent harm, or further harm to the abducted child;
  To exchange where desirable, the information relating to the social
    background of the abducted child;
  To secure the voluntary return of the abducted child or to bring about an
    amicable resolution to the issues;
  To provide information of a general character as to the law of the
   applicable State, in connection with the application of the Hague
   Convention;
  To initiate or facilitate the institution of judicial or administrative
   proceedings with a view to obtaining the return of the abducted child.

How do you start the process?

STEP 1:
1. Is your child under 16 years of age?
2. Is the country your child has been abducted to a Convention partner with
    Trinidad and Tobago?
3. Were you exercising custody rights to your child at the time of the
    abduction? (Rights of custody may arise by operation of law or a judicial
    decision).
4. Was the child removed without your consent?
5. Did you give consent for the child to be removed or retained for a specific
    purpose or an agreed-upon period of time?
6. Was the child habitually resident in Trinidad and Tobago prior to the
    abduction?

If you have answered ‘YES’ to the above questions, then the Authority will discuss the specific circumstances of your case with you and determine if it can offer assistance to initiate the Hague application for the return of your child.

You will be known as the “left-behind parent” (LBP).

The parent who has abducted your child will be known as the “taking-parent” (TP).

STEP 2:
The Authority will need the following to file a Hague Application:
1. Hague Application form.
2. Marriage Certificate (if applicable).
3. Birth Certificate for child.
4. Divorce Decree (if applicable).
5. Evidence of Custodial Right.
Example:
a. Custody order.
b. Copy of state statute.
c. Affidavit of law regarding presumption of custody order under state law.
d. Determination by a State court.
6. Other relevant Court documents regarding the child.
7. Photographs of the parent who abducted the child and child.
8. Signed statement regarding the circumstance of removal or retention of
    children from the parent initiating the Application
9. Signed statements from school, family members and friends etc.
in support of the children being habitual residents in Trinidad.
10. Notarized translations (if applicable).
11. Legal Aid application.
12. Other documents required by Central Authority of the country where
children have been removed to and retained.
Example:
a. Article 28 Authorization.
b. Ability to release information/ Privacy waiver.
c. Permission to issue Voluntary Return letter.

STEP 3:
For Requests Emanating from Trinidad and Tobago:
The LBP will speak to the Authority and complete the relevant forms. Once all other relevant documents for the Hague Package are gathered, it is forwarded to the Central Authority where the child (ren) is presumed to be.
For Requests Emanating Outside of Trinidad and Tobago:
Upon receipt of the Hague Package from a corresponding Central Authority, the Authority engages the relevant authorities to locate the child and issues a voluntary return letter to the TP.
If voluntary return is denied, the Authority files the relevant documents before the Courts in Trinidad and Tobago. The Hague Application then determines if an order for return of the child(ren) should be granted.

Contact Information:
Phone: 223-AGLA ext. 3768 or 3770
Email: rbabwah@ag.gov.tt
           ccaa@ag.gov.tt