Options for Reform of Child Abduction Law
in Hong Kong
14.1The substantive law on child abduction is set out in chapter 13. This chapter deals with the options for reform of the criminal and civil law proposed by the sub-committee of the Law Reform Commission.
Criminal law reforms
Offence of parental child abduction
14.2We do not suggest that parental child abduction be criminalised on the lines of the Child Abduction Act 1984. New criminal offences could only be justified if there was a serious problem of children being abducted within Hong Kong, or to or from Hong Kong. We are not aware of such a problem at present.
Power to detain
14.3The Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can prevent a parent and child departing from Hong Kong when they are aware of a court order prohibiting removal, but cannot arrest or detain them. They cannot stop a child leaving Hong Kong if no order prohibiting removal has been made, provided the child has a valid travel document. The parent might then try to leave Hong Kong by an illegal method. Therefore, we support a power to detain, which is needed until the court and the other parent can be notified. Section 37 of the Irish Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 gives power to the police to detain a child whom they reasonably suspect is about to be, or is being, removed from the State in breach of one of the following orders of a court in the State.
14.4We recommend that a similar provision to section 37 of the Irish Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991 be enacted in Hong Kong. However, we do not propose to go so far as to have a general power of arrest.