The “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act” (UPDATE)
Please read the text of H.R.1940, “SEAN AND DAVID GOLDMAN INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION, PREVENTION AND RETURN ACT” here
By the time I started writing (in February 2009) about “the unbelievably tragic—and exasperating—story of an American father’s brave fight to bring his son home, an 8-year old boy who is being held in Brazil in violation of all international norms, and human decency,” David Goldman — the father of Sean Goldman — had already been fighting that battle for more than four years. And the battle would go on for almost another year.
It all started on June 16, 2004, when David Goldman said goodbye to his four-year-old son, Sean, at Newark Airport. He didn’t know it at the time but his wife, Bruna, and her parents Silvana Bianchi Ribeiro and Raimundo Ribeiro were in the process of abducting Sean and taking him to Brazil with no intention of ever returning, according to the blog BringSeanHome.org
It all ended on Christmas Eve 2009 when it was “wheels-up” for the NBC News charter aircraft taking off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finally bringing David Goldman and his son back home to the United States of America.
These two events are the bookends to more than five years of relentless, heartbreaking fighting by a father — replete with dashed hopes and disappointments — against both the Brazilian judicial system and against two very powerful and influential families in Brazil that have done everything they can, used every judge and court they could, to prevent Sean from being reunited with his father.
After Sean was safely home, in January 2010, I wrote:
It was a monumental battle against a powerful, affluent, politically well-connected Brazilian family and against a less than just Brazilian justice system—a battle of classic David vs. Goliath proportions. But, while David Goldman was certainly the indefatigable fighter, the relentless warrior, the modern day Don Quixote and the ultimate champion for what is right—and for what is his—I will not call him a hero.
I will not call him a hero, for David Goldman is much more than that. He is a man doing what any father who dearly loves his young son would do.
While there were many others who contributed to this tragedy’s happy ending, including President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, David’s lawyers, NBC, and the millions of supporters, the real hero in this long and hard fight is, in my opinion, New Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith, a 30-year Member of Congress, a Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a father.
These are some of the things Congressman Smith has done for David and Sean Goldman and for all those whose children have been abducted:
Representative Smith is the author of numerous human rights laws, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
On March 11, 2009, Smith introduced and had unanimously passed House Resolution 125, “Sean Goldman International Child Abduction Resolution,” calling on Brazil to fulfill its treaty obligations under The Hague Convention and immediately return Sean Goldman to his father in the United States.
On June 3, 2009, Congressman Chris Smith addressed the U. S. House of Representatives with a powerful speech, “On Sean Goldman – Justice Delayed Again.”
On June 4, 2009, Smith introduced H.R. 2702, a Bill “To suspend the application of Generalized System of Preferences for Brazil until such time as Brazil complies with its obligations toward the United States under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.” In effect, the bill would suspend special trade privileges Brazil enjoyed on export goods worth $2.7 billion to the United States.
On June 19, 2009, in an article in the Washington Times, “Will Brazil Do the Right Thing?” Smith described David Goldman’s five-year ordeal and blasted the Brazil judicial system.
On July 16, 2009, Smith introduced H.R. 3240, “The International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009,” a bill that would ensure compliance with the 1980 The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by countries with which the United States enjoys reciprocal obligations, and would establish procedures for the prompt return of children abducted to other countries.
On December 2, 2009, Smith arranged for David Goldman to appear before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on international child abduction and parental access.
Finally, yesterday, with David Goldman and other left behind parents from around the country surrounding him at a mark-up ceremony, “a bill designed to empower the U.S. State Department with more tools to achieve the return of children abducted from the U.S. and to enforce the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” was approved by Members of the House panel that oversees human rights.
Congressman Smith finally saw his bill, H.R. 1940, now named the “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act” lauded by the panel members as a way to help bring thousands of American children who are victims of international parental child abduction, back home. According to the U.S. State Department, over 3,200 new international parental child abduction cases involving over 4,700 children were reported from October 2008 to December 2010.
Smith said the bill, approved by unanimous consent, “will put teeth into U.S. government efforts to reclaim abducted American children by giving the President important tools that motivate other countries to more quickly respond to efforts to return an abducted child.”
Once again, Thank You, Congressman Smith.
Read more about the bill here
Photo of Sean Goldman: Courtesy Bringseanhome.org