8th Annual iStand Parent Network Inc. International Parents Conference & Embassy Walk in Washington, D.C

In an effort to hinder IPCA, and support of Left-Behind Parents, iHOPE attended the 8th Annual iStand Parent Network Inc. International Parents Conference & Embassy Walk in Washington, D.C.
iSTAND organized and hosted its 8th Annual Conference in late September, which focused on the subject of Parental Child Abduction Across Borders. IHOPE, represented by Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby, had the pleasure of supporting this cause among a number of Lawyers, Advocates, and International Organizations, concerned in IPCA and the legal challenges surrounding it.

IPCA Day On Capitol Hill

A day of advocacy for abducted children and for robust public policy reform. During Constituent Calls, parents attend pre-arranged meetings with congressional staff, senators and house members to discuss their cases and seek congressional support to overcome challenges with federal agency response, country non-cooperation and other barriers to their children's return.

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing

Congress passed the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (P.L. 113-150) in 2014, to better implement the Hague Convention, to provide a means to resolve abduction cases among non-Hague countries, and to hold countries accountable for non-compliance with their obligations.
The hearing assessed how well the State Department is implementing the Goldman Act to resolve international parental child abduction cases.
iHOPE, represented by Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby attended the hearing as each of the esteemed Atty.Patricia Apy Mr. Jeffrey Morehouse and Dr. Noelle Hunter gave their testimonies.

← Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby discussing International Parental Child Abduction with Atty. Patricia Apy prior to the hearing.

Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Smith privately in his office after the hearing and award him a Token of Appreciation as Rep. Smith. holds researches presented to him by iHOPE’s Research and Studies Department.→
Capitol Vigil for America's Stolen Children

During a symbolic stand in front of the United States Capitol, parents, grandparents, families and advocates gathered to honor internationally abducted children.
Left-behind parents and survivors shared their stories and their pain.
Members of Congress were invited to offer remarks on behalf of their constituents and to underscore federal commitment to reuniting families and ensuring robust implementation and oversight on this issue.
Rep. Bill Posey gave a speech demonstrating his solidarity with the families and reassuring his never-ending support to them.
Atty. Mohammad also gave a speech on behalf of iHOPE ensuring our emotional and legal support to all those affected by International Parental Child Abduction.

International Organizations Leading the Way

Several members of organizations dedicated to fighting IPCA discussed strategies and their experiences in this realm of legal & policy work.
iHOPE, represented by Khaled Sabbagh, Rasha Kayal and Osei Bilal Kabbara, participating in a panel discussion, International Organizations Leading the Movement, at iStand: UNDIVIDED, the 8th International Parents Conference, in Washington DC.
Click Here to watch the Panel Discussion
“Mainly when addressing policy change, especially in the Arab Region, we need to have a constructivist approach. The importance of the organizations lies in getting the support of the community by proper community engagement and community-based approaches in order to educate the public and shed light to ineffective laws and judicial practices affecting families all over the world.
A lot of Middle Eastern countries have Sharia law. Lebanon has a hybrid system between Civic and Religious laws in regards to personal status matters; however, the legislator left some gaps that we were able to benefit from. We were able to acquire new precedents and new laws regarding the best interest of the children. In cases where several courts are competent at the same time, Strategic Litigation comes handy, enabling us to maneuver around the courts.
We were able to notice the gaps missed by the legislator and maneuvered our way around them. Here comes the importance of specialized task forces trained to find these loop holes and take advantage of them. This is a tactical method that will help us achieve our strategic end, to enhance access to justice and reunite families with their children.”
- iHOPE representatives in regards to Policy Change

The Round Table

A panel of Lawyers and Advocates heavily invested in International Parental Child Abduction discuss many of the more complex, legal & cultural barriers to resolving abductions.
Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby explained the obstacles we face in the Middle East when dealing with cases of IPCA.
“When we are presented with an IPCA case, we are faced with 3 main obstacles as lawyers:
For example, Lebanon is non-signatory to the Hague convention, and personal status matters are governed by religious laws; but in Lebanon alone, we have more than 18 religious sects, and each governs personal status according to its own regulations; let’s take child custody for example, for the catholic Christians custody is granted till the age of 7, for orthodox Christians it’s for the age of 15, for Sunni Muslims it’s for 12, for Shia Muslims it’s for 2, and so on.. keep in mind this is just in one single country regarding one single topic.
We don’t have one general regulation applied to everyone regarding custody rights.
Parental Child Abduction is not regarded as a crime in Lebanon, and therefore, there are no criminal charges on parents who forcefully take their children.
We cannot generalize and use precedents of previous cases, so if we win one case, we cannot win the other, even if they are of similar circumstances.”
- Atty. Mohamad Al Ayouby in regards to IPCA in Arab Countries
Click Here to watch the Legal Round Table Discussion