Dec 18, 2009
A unanimous ruling by the Brazilian Federal Regional Tribunal court today is expected to pave the way for the prompt return of nine-year-old Sean Goldman back home to his New Jersey father, David Goldman, Congressman Chris Smith said today. The Court ordered that Sean must be turned over to his father on Friday at the U.S. consulate in Rio de Janiero.
“For the sake of Sean’s emotional and psychological health, he should be on a plane back to his home in the United States on Friday,” said Smith, a 30-year Member of Congress and a Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The courts in Brazil have once again determined that Sean Goldman must be returned to his father in the United States, vindicating the right of a father to be with his son, and a son to be with his father. This decision upholds Brazil’s commitment under the Hague Convention to return abducted children.”
Closing in on six years since Sean was unlawfully abducted from his Monmouth County, N.J. home where he resided, the ruling recognizes he belongs with his biological father in New Jersey. Sean’s mother, who had abducted him to live in Brazil in 2004 without David Goldman’s consent, later died, leaving Sean with her second husband.
Smith urged the family of the second husband, Paulo Lins e Silva, an influential Rio de Janeiro lawyer, not to engage in another legal delaying tactic to prolong the reunion between father and son.
“Further frivolous and delaying motions and appeals by the da Silva family must stop,” Smith said. “It is long past time for Sean to come home. Sean was 4 when he was abducted, and now he is 9. For five years, the wheels of justice in Brazil have been torturously slow. David Goldman has been robbed of a large part of his son’s childhood. But David is a father who had never given up in his fight to bring his son home. He will not surrender his right to raise his child—rights of which he was wrongly deprived in the 2004 abduction. The U.S. Congress is strongly behind him,” Smith said, referencing H. Res. 125 in which the House of Representatives called on Brazil to fulfill its international obligations and send Sean home.
“I hope there are no more delays,” Smith said. “The world would remain left with the impression that Brazil will not enforce the treaties it signs, and cruelly leaves children like Sean Goldman trapped for years in an endless judicial maze. All the world is still watching and waiting to learn if Brazil is a nation of the rule of law, a nation that lives up to its international commitments.”
Smith said under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction Brazil signed, children like Sean who are wrongfully removed from one nation to another must be returned to their country of habitual residence within six weeks.
Smith noted that three court-appointed Brazilian psychologists determined earlier this year that Sean is being psychologically harmed by the abductors.
Reports on “Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” stated that Brazil demonstrated a “pattern of non-compliance” due to judicial performance in 2007 and 2008.
Sean Goldman was born in New Jersey and was abducted at four years old when his mother, a Brazilian native, left the U.S. on a supposed vacation to Brazil. Immediately upon arriving in Brazil she declared to her husband, David Goldman, her intention—without a lawful custodial agreement—not to return to the United States with their child. She later remarried, and died during childbirth in 2008. Sean has been held by her second husband, a prominent lawyer from a powerful family who is waging a court battle to block Sean from returning to his father.
Under the provisions of The Hague Convention, children who are wrongfully taken by one parent must be immediately restored to their previous living arrangement. If custody has not yet been determined, the proper court in the country of habitual residence will determine custody. The Sean Goldman case was bogged down in Brazilian courts for four years before David was even permitted to visit his son. Only in February 2009, with Smith at his side in Brazil demanding justice from Brazilian judges and government officials, was a visitation order enforced.
“Their bond was nearly instant and clearly visible to everyone,” Smith said.