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Cyprus

Mothers of abducted children in plea for help

Mothers who have seen their children taken to their estranged partner’s home country said they felt exasperated over the lack of progress on their plight after Monday’s House human rights committee met to discuss the matter.

They said the discussion was no different to a session they attended last year.

The matter concerns mixed marriages with one Cypriot parent and one non Cypriot.

According to committee chairman Sophoclis Fittis, the government has no control over child abductions to third countries or Arab states which have different cultures and legal systems. Often, communication between the child and the Cypriot parent is over the phone and in secret, he added.

Unofficial figures cited during Monday’s session said there are currently 20 cases of abductions to EU countries and 17 cases to non-EU countries not governed by the Hague Convention.

According to DISY MP Stella Kyriakidou this is a problem seen across Europe where 30 per cent of kidnappings within EU member states are actually children abducted by one of their parents.

AKEL’s Skevi Koukouma said significant steps had been taken since the matter was first discussed two years ago and a law passed only recently over children retained abroad served – to an extent – as a deterrent.

Better controls need to be in place at the checkpoints and all points of exit from the republic, she added, while Cypriots married to non Cypriots should also be better informed about the legal situation in the latter’s home country.

Fittis said the stop list system needed to be upgraded.

One mother, Andri Demetriou, attending the session, said her child had been abducted three years ago and was now in Syria.

“Last January we came to the committee and the same matter was discussed and the same things were said. We are parents and every parent expects to hear something more concrete for their own case.”

Demetriou said she actually belongs to one of the “lucky” cases because she knows where her child is and has some contact with him but this did not solve the problem. She added that other parents have no idea what conditions their child is living in, or whether they are well fed and taken care of.

“We want our children. We have no life without our babies,” said another mother, Chrystalla Panagiotou, adding a law was needed to prevent and deal with these cases.

Three years after she took her case to court, no international arrest warrant had been issued, she said. Her children, seven and four-years-old cannot speak Greek and cannot properly communicate with her.

The matter is set to be discussed again on April 22.

 

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