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Parents seek help in cross-border abductions

Swiss officials dealt with 102 new cases of international abduction by parents in 2009, most often involving a Swiss parent seeking access to children taken abroad.

Of the new cases, 73 relate to the return of missing children and 29 concern the violation of visiting rights. A further 115 unresolved cases date from before 2009 bringing the total number of ongoing cases to 217.

In comparison, the Swiss Central Authority for Dealing with International Child Abductions handled 208 cases in the preceding year.

As in previous years, officials processed significantly more outgoing requests for assistance from other countries in 2009 than incoming requests.

Bordering countries feature prominently in the cases of international abduction with ten Swiss applications made to Italy, nine to Germany and six to France. There were seven Swiss requests to the United States.

Swiss officials also received a handful of requests from each of the above countries.

Mothers are the instigators in two-thirds of cases of abduction. Where visiting rights are violated, the vast majority of those obstructing access rights are women.

In all, 143 children were involved in the new 2009 cases; their average age was seven.

Switzerland is one of the 81 contracting states to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, which is aimed at securing the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or detained in any contracting state.

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