Letter to US Embassy in Madrid | Amb. Costos 4/30/14

The rhetoric of Under Secretary Kennedy of the US Department of State belies the reality of the failure of Consulates to utilize the Convention of Consular Relations to protect the rights and interests of Americans living abroad  





See more videos of Maria Jose… Remembering that her case is not ‘isolated’, but representative of what happens to the wives of abusers who take advantage of negligence and corruption in the courts to continue harassing their victims




April 30, 2014

RE: Human Rights Case Wilcox vs. Spain – Violations of Rights & Judicial Corruption Elevated to Crimes Against Humanity by the Cover-up of Human Rights Violations

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

I am once again soliciting the assistance of the American Embassy in Madrid under art. 5 & 38 of the Convention of Consular Relations, §71.1 and §10.735–215 of CFR 22, 2715a, 71.6, 3904(1) of 22 USC, and the US government’s ‘obligation to protect’ under Gonzales vs. USA (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2011),inter alia.

Please find enclosed my official complaint to the Defensor del Pueblo, which is my last attempt to “exhaust all domestic remedies” before presenting my case to the European Courts of Human Rights against the Spanish government for human rights violations, and crimes against humanity as defined by art. 7 of the Roma Statute of the International Criminal Courts (art. 7–murder, rape, torture, enslavement, imprisonment, persecution of a group, or other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health… when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack).

The refusal of the American Consulate in Madrid to utilize their prerogative afforded by the Convention of Consular Relations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, inter alia to fulfill their ‘obligation to protect’ renders them complicit to the human rights violations of the Spanish government under their omission of action.

Please find enclosed Family Courts in Crisis (FCC) newsletter (Nov. ’13 Save the Children – Spanish Justice System Faced with Child Sex Abuse within the Family & Jan. ’14 Amnesty International – What Specialized Justice?), which documents the widespread and systematic ‘attack’ of women and children in Spain. These reports, as well as my case, demonstrate the widespread and systematic failure of judicial systems to protect victims, in addition to the refusal of Spanish public authorities to investigate allegations against judicial actors for their failure to exercise due diligence in the protection of the rights of victims – fulfilling the criteria of “with knowledge of the attack.”

In order to avoid encumbering already overburdened courts with cases against the Spanish and American governments for the failure of public authorities to exercise due diligence in the prevention of human rights violations, as well as the cover-up for said violations by their omission of actions, I hope that the American Embassy in Madrid will officially request that the Defensor del Pueblo fulfill their obligation to assure that appropriate Spanish authorities exercise due diligence in their investigation of my allegations and application of Spanish and international law in their investigation of the facts and prosecution of responsible parties.

In closing I wish to call attention to the US Department of State’s extensive assistance (enumerated below) to ‘left-behind parents’ in tracking down and persecuting women and children fleeing domestic abuse (68% of international child abduction by women), as well as influencing the judicial process in Hague Convention cases; resulting in favorable treatment for abusers and de facto discrimination against women.

The extensive assistance provided to abusers/’left behind parents’ by State Department officials, in contrast to the absolute refusal of Consular Affairs agents to comply with 7 FAM guidelines in protecting victims’ rights in host countries (thereby eliminating the necessity for women and children ‘to flee’ in the first place) is contradictory and hypocritical. This clearly constitutes de facto discrimination against women, children, and victims of domestic abuse, and further elevates the tort of the US Department of State and US government under US federal law as well as international law.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. If you should have any questions, I may be contacted at my email, quenby@global-xpats.com.


Quenby Wilcox

Founder – Global Expats

Founder – Safe Child International


cc:  Patrick F Kennedy, Under Secretary of Management, US Department of State

Jim Pettit, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizens Services

Joyce Namde, European Division Director, Office of American Citizen Services & Crisis Management, US Department of State

Congressman Steny Hoyer

Congressional representatives, members of the American’s Abroad Caucus

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


Litigating International Child Abduction Cases Under the Hague Convention

Kilpatrick Townsend, Attorney at Law

& National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


…the State Department receives a Hague Application, a case officer is assigned to help the left-behind parent with locating the child. The State Department collaborates with various entities and agencies to help with the process, including Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGOs”) such as International Social Service (“ISS”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the International Criminal Police Organization (“INTERPOL”), and individual states’ missing-child clearinghouses. The State Department also works with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create media awarenessthat can be highly useful in locating abducted childrenlocating the child in the United States by using school, employment, financial, social security, police, postal, internet or other public records….

…the State Department’s location of the abducting parent and missing child and the retention of counsel by the left-behind parent. The abducting parent also may move frequently due to a lack of resources, have transitory living accommodations with relatives and friends, have difficulty enrolling children in school, have illegal immigration status, and have a general fear of detection by law enforcement….Private investigators may be a valuable resource as well. Larger law firms frequently have private investigators with law enforcement experience in their employ or under contract…..Local law enforcement officers also can be a great asset to such an investigation, as they have in-depth knowledge of the community, the power of the badge, subpoena power to obtain public records, and ultimately wield arrest authority….

Once the State Department locates the child, if the left-behind parent requests pro bono legal representation based on the parent’s personal assessment of eligibility under the Legal Services Corporation Poverty Guidelines, the State Department contacts attorneys in the International Child Abduction Attorney Network (“ICAAN”)…the State Department will provide additional information such as the Application and custody documents….the State Department will provide the foreign language Application and the translated Application to counsel…the State Department provides counsel with the entire file…NCMEC also provides legal technical assistance for attorneys at any point during the litigation. This assistance includes discussing legal questions, referring attorneys to ICAAN mentors, discussing alternate legal strategies, arranging logistical support, providing third party referrals for counseling and other support, and troubleshooting…

…the State Department sends outreach lettersto attorneys who have agreed to consider representation….the left-behind parent is walked through the legal process in the United States and provided with a list of potential attorneys who have agreed to speak to him or her and the attorneys’ contact information. The first communication with the left-behind parent will be the opportunity to establish an attorney-client relationship. If the client does not speak English, it is essential to have a translator present during that initial phone conversation between counsel and the prospective client. The translator can be anyone who is fluent in both languages and does not have to be certified or sanctioned by the court. The State Department also will aid in coordinating the initial call through the Language Line, a telephonic interpretation service….

Inquire about criminal records, domestic violence, immigration issues, and other legal issues that may be raised. Request any documents that may be relevant to these issues. Counsel should take an opportunity during the follow-up call to prepare the client for the potentially explosive allegations that the abductor may make at trial. Although these issues may not be relevant to a Hague Convention case, the abductor may allege them nonetheless….

Efforts to expedite the visa process for the left-behind parent once a hearing is scheduled may be necessary. Consulates and Embassies become key players and can provide significant help to resolve these issues in a prompt manner….If the petition will be filed in a jurisdiction with a single judge, it is helpful to contact chambers before filing to discuss the logistics. In a jurisdiction with more than one judge, contact chambers after the judge is assigned. Advise the law clerk about the nature of Hague Convention cases and the referral from the State Department, if applicable.Offer collaboration, as these are unusual cases. Consider e-mailing drafts of pleadings to a receptive clerk. Inform the court of judges in the same or nearby jurisdictions who previously have presided over Hague Convention cases. Consider filing all papers under seal to protect the safety of the child until the case is resolved…. Address the need for a hearing by phone or video conference if the client is not able to travel to the initial hearing. This is not ideal, but it should be sought as a last resort….

The State Department will send a letter to the judge (with a copy to all counsel) that explains the State Department’s role as U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention and refers to key provisions of the Hague Petition and documents regarding the history of the Hague Convention (i.e., the Perez-Vera Report). The judge’s letter also clarifies that the letter should not be construed by the court as constituting an opinion of the United States or the Department of State regarding the merits of the case….The State Department will provide the names of other judges in the same or nearby jurisdictions who have presided over Hague Convention cases and who would be willing to provide basic information to judges regarding the Hague Convention process….

…whether the court will be asked to take custody of the child when the abducting parent is served (or before). Expect that a judge will be uncomfortable with ordering law enforcement to take custody of the child, and that counsel will need to make a compelling case to persuade a judgeto do so….Counsel should fashion the request in a manner that will be familiar to the court, such as having a United States Marshal seize the child and bring the child before the judge….taking possession of the child and placing him or her in the custody of social services is also an alternative….If the court is persuaded to order recovery of the child collaboration with the United States Marshals Service and/or law enforcement is essential. There should be an order specifically directing the United States Marshals or other appropriate law enforcement agency to pick up the child. Suggest that the Marshals be present in court or chambers to discuss this procedure….

After the child is taken into custody, the Marshals generally are instructed to bring the child and the client back to the courthouse for an appearance before a federal judge….Accommodations must be sought on a case-by-case basis Consolidators often provide airfares on major airlines at vastly-reduced prices. Seek donations of frequent flyer miles from colleagues, which have the added advantage of flexibility….In pro bono cases, law firms frequently bear the cost of the client’s travel…. Choose a hotel that offers a free breakfast … Collect donationsof snacks from colleagues…that a foreign country shall be treated as if it were a state of the United States for all general and jurisdictional purposes…

In Abbott v. Abbott, the United States Supreme Court held that the ne exeat right is a custodial right, and therefore, the remedy of return of the child to his or her country of habitual residence is available to the left-behind parent…As a matter of law, the child’s best interests are not at issue….

The person opposing the child’s return must show that the risk to the child is grave, not merely serious…  the State Department made clear its view that the best interests of the childare not to influence a court’s determinationthe reality that abductors are most commonly women who act as primary caretakers for the children. In alleging grave risk to the children, litigants are increasingly raising the issue of domestic abuse, in addition to emphasizing the decades of scholarship addressing the harmful effects of domestic violence on children in the home…..

It often is recommended to rush clients [left behind parents] and children to the airport and through security once a return order is entered because lingering presents a danger that an appeal will be filed and a stay will be entered.


The Hague Convention and Domestic Abuse

In 1980, an international treaty was designed to return children who had been abducted by a parent who moved to another country… the people drafting the treaty thought the typical abductor would be a noncustodial father skipping town with the kids, leaving mom with little recourse to try to get her children back.

…68% of the abducting parents in cases under this treaty are mothers — and that many of them are fleeing abusive spouses… the treaty is often used against women seeking safety for themselves — and for their children — from violent husbands.

Protecting Children: Rethinking the Hague Convention by Mirela Iverac

“The Hague Convention has no state exception for domestic violence.” “The fact that returned children are usually given to fathers in the other country means that these decisions act as de facto custody rulings.”

The Judges’ Newsletter – La lettra des juges

In press, Spring 2011 Publication of the Hague Conference on International Law

Implication of the Hague Convention in Cases of Domestic Abuse

 “Women can either choose to save themselves and leave their children behind if they need to escape the violence, or stay in the other country and risk trauma, injury and potentially death at the hands of their abuser in order to seek custody of their children back in the country of habitual residence.”

“ As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer asked in the recent Abbott v. Abbott hearing: “She has to choose between her life and her child — is that what this convention is aimed at?”.”

Hague Convention Domestic Violence Project

Battered Women’s Flight Across National Borders: Two Paradoxical Issues.

  •  Women are traditionally castigated for staying with battering husbands… Why does she stay?” For mothers who finally flee the batterer, but end up crossing an international border to do so, the ironic focus becomes the exact opposite: “Why did she leave?”
  •  Under the current policies and procedures emanating from the Hague Convention, the law indicates that women should stay in the country where they are residing with their children, even in the face of serious abuse, under the assumption that services and resources are available to assist her in the other country (services which were not available to the majority of women in this study).
  • Abusers can also use other custody laws such as Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to gain custody of the children.
  •  Fathers in the other country often used the fact that children were returned by a U.S. judge as proof that the mother was an unfit parent who had acted illegally in fleeing with the children.

The Judges’ Newsletter – La lettra des juges

In press, Spring 2011 Publication of the Hague Conference on International Law

Mother Involved in a Hague Convention Case

“Basically there’s three choices in these situations…1. You stay in those conditions and you survive as long as you can. 2. You walk away from your child and you walk away. 3. You run, with your child. So there’s three. That’s it.”                     

Multiple perspectives on battered mothers and their children fleeing to the U.S. for safety: The Hague Domestic Violence Project 

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