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suggested that such expert early assistance may ensure a willingness to accept a speedy and less acrimonious return than might otherwise be possible, as well as identifying the exceptional cases where defences may be available and rigorously pursued. There were many strong expressions from

64 parents about the continued need to abduction matters in order to consequences of abduction which incidents.

raise societal awareness of avoid the preventable can be caused by these

An equally emotive issue for some of those who took part was that of post-abduction contact.65 Although it is accepted that this is a matter for the competent authorities of the State of the child’s habitual residence, some concern has been raised regarding the way in which the abduction has affected the issue of continuing contact between the child and the non-custodial parent and that parent’s wider family. The importance of maintaining contact with both parents and both families, where in the child’s best interests, is a cornerstone of most family law systems and is especially important where the child may have already been deprived once of such contact, during the abduction. It is crucial that children are not encouraged to view these important figures in their lives as dispensable, nor to insulate themselves from the benefits of inter-dependence which these relationships confer, but are supported in their continued

expressed complete confidence in the legal advice provided, it was clear that this was not the common experience and was usually when a specialist adviser had been involved from the beginning.

64 reunite commenced an awareness campaign in 2002, funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, due to the concern felt about the lack of information on abduction which was being made available to the general public. As part of this campaign, a documentary was made and disseminated and prevention information was distributed to Courts, Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, Libraries and other advice agencies. reunite has also developed a website on which its prevention guides are published which have been very successful in raising awareness of prevention issues. reunite is continuing to raise awareness through ethnic community projects, and now has an Asian language speaker available on its Advice Line, as well as through a media campaign scheduled for the Summer of 2006, and the continuation of its national poster campaign.

65 This may relate to when the child has been returned to the care of the left-behind parent and where the abducting parent and wider family desire contact with the child, or where the child remains in the care of the abducting custodial parent following leave to remove from the jurisdiction and where the left-behind parent and wider family similarly desire contact. In the former case, the interpretation of article 21 of the Convention may be significant. In the latter case contact provisions are likely to form part of the order allowing relocation and, within the States of the European Union (other than Denmark) may now be enforced through the revised Brussels 11 Regulation. See further article 50 regarding legal aid.

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