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Brazilian Secretariat for Human Rights Intervenes to Return American Child to Biological Father

The Special Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil, the Brazilian Central Authority for the Hague Convention of 1980, sent to the Office of the Attorney General a request for the restitution to the United States of an eight year old American child. The request was presented by the Government of the United States of America. After analysing the case, the Office of the Attorney General filed a petition today before a Federal Court in Rio de Janeiro.

In the Secretariat´s understanding, this legal action will honor the obligations established by the Hague Convention for the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of which Brazil is a Contracting State. The main objective of the Convention is to return to the country of original residence any children who are wrongfully retained in another Contracting State. In accordance with the Convention, a child may only remain in another country under due authorization of the parents who exercise legal custody.

The child, son of an American citizen and Brazilian mother, was taken by the mother to Brazil in 2004 to visit the maternal family. Once in Brazil, the mother decided to remain in the country with the child without the father´s consent and filed for divorce. As a result, proceedings for the return of the child to the United States were initiated before the Brazilian Justice. The mother later remarried to a Brazilian citizen but due to complications during delivery of a second child has passed away. The child´s step father was recently granted temporary custody of the child by a Family court of Rio de Janeiro.

From the point of view of the Secretariat for Human Rights, as the biological father exercises the legal custody of the child in the United States, the establishment of temporary custody rights in Brazil on behalf of the step father violates the Hague Convention. For this reason, the Secretariat sent a formal message to the National Council of Justice to manifest its concern with the conduction of the case by the local Family court.

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