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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) urged Attorney General Bill Barr to make full use of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act to combat international parental child abduction.

Every year, several hundred American children are abducted by one parent and brought to a foreign country, where they are isolated from their other parent, family members, and friends. Abduction can have a profound impact on a child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act criminalizes the removal of a child from the United States with “the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.” Individuals found guilty of violating this statute are subject to criminal fines and the possibility of imprisonment of up to three years. These penalties provide powerful inducement for the taking parent to return a wrongfully taken or retained American child abroad.

“Our office has consistently heard from left-behind parents and advocates that the Department rarely prosecutes individuals under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act and that many federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers are either unaware of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act’s existence or do not understand the vital role that prosecution can play in securing the return of abducted children,” wrote Senators Tillis and Feinstein. “We respectfully ask that you commit to increasing prosecutions under the law and provide training to all federal law enforcement officers on how it can be used to secure the return of American children.”

This letter is the latest step taken by Senators Tillis and Feinstein to increase awareness of international parental child abduction. Earlier this year, they sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo urging him to make more relentless and effective efforts to bring abducted American children back home to the United States by using all of the tools and resources at the State Department’s disposal and introduced a bipartisan resolution to combat international parental child abduction.

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