Violence Against Children : Abduction

Legal definitions of abduction vary from country to country. For example, section 362 of the Indian Penal Code states that: “Whoever by force compels, or by any deceitful means induces, any person to go from any place, is said to abduct that person.”

In Canada's Criminal Code, on the other hand, section 283 creates the crime ofabduction only in relation to younger children, for example, where a parent or guardian, caring for a person under the age of fourteen, “takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person, whether or not there is a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person...."

International child abduction refers to the illegal removal of children from their home by an acquaintance or family member to a foreign country. In 1980, the Hague Conference drafted a Convention to specifically address the problem of international child abduction.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child also addresses abduction. Article 35 stipulates that, “States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.” Indeed, abduction is often discussed in the context of trafficking, and/or sexual violence. The UN Study on Violence Against Children explains that, “In certain settings, infants are at particular risk of abduction for trafficking. For example, in Central America there are reports of infant kidnapping for the US adoption market, sometimes directly from the hospital shortly after birth.” 

Increased incidences of abduction may also occur in situations of unrest or war. According to the Study, “some situations in which conflict or unrest are ongoing – such as in Northern Uganda and Nepal – have exposed children to mass kidnapping and abduction, so they can perform as fighters, porters, or be in support positions; girls have been used as sexual slaves”.

It may be difficult to differentiate between instances of abduction, kidnapping and unlawful detention, as the respective definitions often overlap, or the definition of abduction in one country might be the definition of kidnapping in another. 

What can be done about it?

In respect of international child abduction, there are different steps that can be taken in different countries if the suspicion of abduction arises. These may include, for example, applying for a court order that prevents the child from being removed from the country. Reunite International has produced a child abduction prevention pack.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticised countries including Japan for “insufficient safeguards to protect children from abduction.” It has also urged countries, such as Cameroon, to ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Source: CRIN