By Andria Kades
Police on Monday averted what they believe was a concrete plan to kidnap a three-year-old girl, after they arrested three men from Norway who were crossing from the occupied territories.
The three, aged 29, 40 and 60 were detained while crossing Ayios Dhometios checkpoint in Nicosia from northern Cyprus to the republic, after police received a tip of their plan.
Enough evidence was found on them to convince the court that there seemed to be a concrete plan in place to kidnap the girl. Nicosia district court remanded them for three days to help police investigations.
It is believed they wanted to take the child back to Norway where her father lives.
The three-year-old lives with her mother, who separated from her ex-husband a few years ago.
The couple had married in Norway in 2012 but after they separated, the mother returned to the island with her daughter.
Last year, she had taken the child to Norway to visit her father but after he kept the child, the mother returned to the island and initiated proceedings to have the child sent back to her.
Police confirmed that later in the year, the child was legally returned to Cyprus.
There are currently 37 cases of child abductions in Cyprus, where one parent has abducted the child from the other parent and taken them abroad. Countries which have signed the Hague convention – including all EU member states – are easier to process and for the children to be returned.
Undertaken by the justice ministry, member countries share information to help authorities locate the child, taking the case to court which aims to send the child to its habitual residence and not resolve custody disputes.
Countries which are not part of the Hague convention, such as Middle Eastern countries, have no cooperation and fall under the responsibility of the foreign ministry which uses diplomatic means to try resolve the issue. In practice, this makes it very difficult for the children to be returned.