Public Law 113-150 – Aug. 8, 2014
THE SEAN AND DAVID GOLDMAN INTERNATIONAL
CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION AND RETURN ACT
Prime Sponsor: Mr. Christopher H. Smith (NJ)
H.R. 3212 , now P.L. 113-150
Signed by the President on August 8, 2014
Years in the Making
Over five years after U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) introduced his first bill to prevent international parental child abduction, The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, H.R. 3212, was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by the President.
Passage and enactment required a major shift in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of the pain and suffering caused international parental child abduction. Smith and many victims maintain that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation. There were thousands heartbroken left-behind parents—some of whom haven’t seen their children for years—who waited for this law to be enacted to help them in their fight to see their children again.
At its core, Smith’s law gives the State Department a variety of tools to pressure foreign governments to send home American children abducted to overseas destinations—including a list of penalties that can be applied against countries that do not cooperate in the rightful return of American children. The law also requires better reporting and support from the State Department so that left-behind parents are not on their own in overseas battles to win the return of their abducted children.
Sanctions Against other Counties Who Won't Return U.S. Children
Among its many provisions, The Goldman Act has eight steps the Administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children:
Other Key Provision of the Bill
- For the first time, The Goldman Act requires the State Department to address and better assist parents of children who have been abducted to countries that have not signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions.
- The new law also requires the Administration to inform Members of Congress about the status of abducted children from their districts, and the law significantly enhances reporting on country-by-country performance.
Path to Passage
Congress gave final approval to House of Representatives 3212 (HR 3212) on July 26, 2014 with the House passage of legislation Smith originally proposed in 2009, following his personal intervention in the fight to bring Sean home to New Jersey, years after he had been abducted to Brazil by his mother. Smith traveled to Brazil with Sean’s father, David, and worked with David and his team of lawyers and volunteers to help bring Sean home after a five-year abduction. Following Sean’s return to New Jersey, David Goldman stayed active in promoting the legislation. Smith held a half-dozen hearings on the child abductions, many at which Goldman testified. The House unanimously passed HR 3212 in December 2013, with Senate passage taking place in July.
Smith authored four versions of the bill (HR 3240, HR 1940, HR 1951 and HR 3212) using each to educate his colleagues and make modifications aimed at building widespread support in an increasingly partisan Congress. He chaired multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries, from which few are returned.
Click here to read text of the Goldman Act