http://www.app.com/article/20130509/NJNEWS/305090114/Rep-Chris-Smith-pushes-federal-action-NJ-child-abductions

Rep. Chris Smith pushes for federal action on NJ child abductions
May 10, 2013

David Goldman, Monmouth County, is one of the only known left-behind parents to retrieve his child from Brazil.
Written by
Malia Rulon Herman
@mrulon

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey continued to hammer the U.S. government Thursday over a string of international child abduction cases that remain unresolved, including several from his home state.

“The status quo is simply not adequate,” Smith said at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on global human rights and international organizations, which he chairs.

Bindu Philips of Plainsboro, N.J., told committee members that while on a family trip to India in December 2008, her ex-husband, Sunil Jacob, left her at a cousin’s home and began a new life with their children — removing all contact.

“Every day I awaken to the heart-wrenching reality that I am separated from the children that I love more than anything in the world,” she said. “I implore you, members of Congress, to help me in my quest to be reunited with my children.”

Philips has an active case with the State Department, has been in touch with the Indian consulates in New York and Washington, and was awarded full custody of both boys by the family division of New Jersey’s Superior Court.

Michael Elias, a former Marine Corps sergeant and now a Bergen County sheriff’s officer, experienced a similar ordeal. It also started in December 2008, when his ex-wife, Mayumi Nakamura, took their two children to Japan and cut off all contact.

He was awarded full custody of the children in Bergen County Superior Court, and the children were ordered to be returned under the Hague Convention, which outlines policies and practices in international abduction cases.

Neither Japan nor India are signatories of the convention.

“As long as your government allows Japan to continue to disregard our children, the number of parental kidnappings will continue to rise,” Elias told lawmakers.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Jacobs, the State Department’s special advisor for children’s issues, told the committee that through the Hague Convention, hundreds of children are returned to the United States each year, many of them from Mexico.

She said reaching out to countries that have not yet joined the convention is one of the department’s top priorities and an issue that Secretary of State John Kerry raised with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida during a visit last month.

Smith said the U.S. government should do more. On Thursday, he re-introduced the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, a bill named for a Tinton Falls, N.J., man who fought for five years to win the return of his son from Brazil.

The bill would empower the president and State Department with 18 actions and penalties to secure the return of abducted American children.

Goldman, who also testified at Thursday’s hearing, said a “complete culture change” is needed at the State Department.

“Nothing short of being extremely bold and principled is going to do much to change the status quo,” he said.