Cross-border child abductions to Denmark on the rise

Parents of divided families sometimes kidnap their own

Every year, about 25 children of Danish parents living abroad are kidnapped and brought back to Denmark, reports Metroxpress.

Some 284 children were abducted between 2003 and 2013. In 2013 alone, 28 children were taken from their homes in other countries: four from the Nordic countries, ten from other European countries, one from North America and the rest from other countries.

“The number of cases are relatively stable from year to year,” Merethe Johansen, a special advisor to the Social and Interior Ministry, told Metroxpress.

“Cases where a child is claimed to have been abducted from outside of Denmark are sent to the bailiff’s court, which then makes a decision.”

READ MORE: American mother suspected of kidnapping her daughter

Denmark is a member of the Hague Convention, which “ensures the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence”.

In the past 11 years, 39 children have been returned to the parent in the country they were abducted from.

A long wait
However, some cases take years to go through the legal system. Four cases from 2003 are still pending.

“Some of the cases take a very long time,” said Jytte Smidstrup, a lawyer from Horsens.

“Children suffer greatly by being stuck between the two parties. The cases are just like other custody battles, except they involve borders. I have cases [that involve one of the parents being] from as far away as Brazil.”

The case of Oliver
Denmark’s most well-known custody case is that of Oliver, who in April 2012 was taken from his mother’s car in Austria and brought back to Denmark by his father, Thomas Nørregaard Sørensen.

Oliver’s mother, Marion Weilharter, has always contended Sørensen is a kidnapper in violation of international law. Sørensen was convicted of serious assault and child abduction in Austria.