Smith, Author of Goldman Act, the US Child Abduction Protection Law, Comments on Arrests, CaseFBI Arrest of Those in Abduction Case of Texas Boy to Brazil Shows Serious Nature of International Parental Child Abduction Cases
“The arrests and charges today clearly underscore the very serious nature of international parental child abduction and, I hope, the U.S. government’s increasing determination to reunite abducted American children with their left behind parents,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, author of the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-150) to provide government support and assistance to kidnapped children and their left behind parents.
Smith’s comments came in response to the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested Carlos Guimarães, President of ED&F Man Brasil, and Jemima Guimarães as they landed at Miami International Airport. Mr. and Mrs. Guimarães are dual US-Brazilian citizens who are suspected of involvement in the abduction of their grandson, Nico Brann, from Houston to Brazil in 2013. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston, Texas, has charged them with conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.
“Brazil has had four and-a-half years to properly resolve this case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and return Nico to his father, Christopher Brann, in the United States,” Smith said. “Instead, we have seen Brazil systematically dodge its Hague obligations in the Brann case, reducing a loving father’s court endorsed shared custody to a handful of supervised visitation days in Brazil—leaving Nico’s father no choice but to pursue criminal remedies to the fullest extent of the law.
“Dr. Brann testified at a hearing I chaired on Capitol Hill in 2016, entitled “Hope Deferred: Securing Enforcement of the Goldman Act,” said the senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “His comments on the 3rd anniversary of Nico’s abduction were compelling and key to bringing needed light to the ongoing impunity for kidnappers in Brazil.”
Giving a further boost to the Brann case, Smith authored legislation pending in this Congress, H.R. 3512, The Bindu Philips and Devon Davenport International Parental Child Abduction Return Act of 2017, which specifically mentions the Brann case in its findings on Brazil’s persistent failure to implement the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In light of the stonewalling on the Brann case and others, H.R. 3512 would remove Brazil’s eligibility as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences until Brazil becomes compliant with its Hague obligations.
“Dr. Brann’s love for Nico and his personal tenacity has been awe-inspiring,” Smith said. “We are hopeful for a long overdue father and son reunion in the near future,” said. Smith also credited Dr. Brann’s legal team led by Jared Genser with painstakingly pursuing every legal recourse to ensure Nico’s right to be with his father.
PHOTO: Christopher Brann testifies at Congressman Smith's July 2016 hearing on international parental abductions.
Between 2008 and 2016, nearly 10,500 children have been abducted overseas by a parent and almost always cut off from contact with the left behind American parent. Studies have shown these children are at grave risk of serious emotional and psychological problems, and may experience a number of symptoms including anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt, and fearfulness. Far from simply a custody dispute, international child abduction is a violation of both the left behind parent’s and child’s basic human rights.
Sean Goldman, son of David Goldman (both of Smith’s District in New Jersey) was the last child Brazil’s courts returned to the United States under the Hague Convention—and that was in 2009—after a five-year separation of father and son. The United States currently has a dozen long-standing abduction cases in Brazil.
Smith has held numerous congressional hearings on the Goldman case—as well as on cases of other left behind parents whose children have been abducted to Japan, India, Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and other countries—leading to passage of the Goldman Act in 2014. He has continued to hold additional hearings on international child abductions and enforcement of the Goldman Act.