2013|State Dept 02/13 Jacobs

Letter to Ambassador Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, US Dept. of State

Letter to US Dept. State – Sec. of State Kerry, Amb Jacobs, Michael Posner, Stephen Rapp & Van Schaack 2/26/13





Hiding Heads under the sand

February 26, 2013

RE: Domestic abuse as a human rights violation, and a State’s obligation to protect

Dear Secretary of State Kerry; Ambassador Jacobs (Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs); Michael H. Posner (Asst. Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor); Stephen J. Rapp (Ambassador-at-Large – Office of Global Criminal Justice);  and Beth Van Schaack (Deputy – Office of Global Criminal Justice);

I am contacting you regarding an issue that is receiving increasing awareness amongst communities around the world; domestic abuse and violence as a human rights violation and a State’s obligation to protect under the principle of due diligence, as establish by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Gonzales vs. USA and Velasquez vs. Honduras, and the European Courts of Human Rights in A vs. UK (www.aclu.org/human-rights-womens-rights/jessica-gonzales-v-usa.)

As so many advocates, I have become involved in the issues due to my own personal experience as a victim of domestic abuse, and re-victimization by the very judicial systems which have a duty and obligation under international human rights law to protect me and my children.

Details of my own personal case and my efforts to protect and defend my rights, and the rights of others (as well as develop “good practices” and appropriate protocol in challenging and denouncing abusive and discriminatory traditions and customs in family courts) are as follows and posted on the appropriate weblinks:

  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – Commission on the Status of Women – complaint against the Spanish government, for the following violations: their failure to protect victims of gender violence; failure to assure due process: failure to prevent discrimination against women within judicial proceeding pertaining to divorce, custodial decisions, and liquidation of common assets;  application of discriminatory norms against and stereotypes of women during judicial proceedings and decisions;  the failure of government regulatory agencies to duly investigate complaints of lack of due process, discrimination, and negligence/corruption of State and non-State judicial actors (www.worldpulse.com/node/55730)
  • Official complaint to the Spanish Defensor del Pueblo and Consejo General del Poder Judicial for constitutional, civil and human rights violations in Gonzalez de Alcala vs. Wilcox (www.worldpulse.com/node/52011)
  • Official complaint to the Spanish Instituto de Mujer for discrimination against women in Gonzalez de Alcala vs. Wilcox (www.worldpulse.com/node/50602)
  • Letter to Quatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira (April 2012) requesting their assistance under their obligation to perform the previous unfulfilled contractual obligation of Jorge Capell, art. 1089, 1098, 1102, 1104, of the Spanish civil code, & art. 11, 29, 31, 109, 511 and  512 of the Spanish penal code, inter alia (www.worldpulse.com/node/62773)
  • Letter to Plehn Abogados (December2012) requesting his assistance in arriving at a financial settlement with all previous legal counsel (Gonzalo Martinez de Haro of Vanander, Carlos y Associados (American Embassy website listing); Belen Garcia Martin (Plehn Abogado – American Embassy website listing); Jose Manuel Hernandez Jiménez (abogado de oficio); Jorge Capell of Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira (American Embassy website listing); Alberto Fontes Garcia Calamarte; Miguel Martinez Lopez de Asiain & Ignacio Gonzalez Martinez; and procuradores[1] Juan Bosco Hornedo Muguiro; Maria Pilar Lantero; Pilar Poveda Guerra; and Rafael Gamarra Megias) for their professional and criminal negligence in Wilcox vs. Gonzalez de Alcala (2007) and Gonzalez de Alcala vs. Wilcox (2007-2012); as an act of good faith and in order to avoid future litigation against them.

Of additional concern, from a humanitarian as well as US government policy stand-point, has been US State Department, Consular Affairs representatives refusal to comply with my requests for assistance under the Convention of Consular Relations (art. 5, 36, 37 & 38), and as provided for in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs (FAM), inter alia. Please find enclosed a copy of pertinent correspondence with US State Department officials.

In my final efforts to exhaust all domestic remedies at my disposal before presenting my case to the international courts, I am filing an official complaint with the Colegio de Abogado(Bar Association) y Colegio de Procuradores in Madrid against the afore mentioned legal counsel for their professional and criminal negligence in Wilcox vs. Gonzalez de Alcala and Gonzalez de Alcala vs. Wilcox (www.worldpulse.com/node/52999.)

To this end, I have once again contacted the American Consulate and Embassy in Madrid, as well as the Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management, US State Department in Washington, DC (see enclosed) requesting their assistance under the Convention of Consular Relations and FAM, inter alia.

The US State Department estimates that 5.25 million Americans reside abroad, with 650,000 women and children at risk of becoming victims of domestic abuse and violence.[2]  In 2012 the American Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC – www.866uswomen.org) handled 3005 crisis calls, emails & live chats directly from, or on behalf of 547 victims (544 females, 3 males) in 57 countries (UK, Canada, Costa Rica, Turkey, Russia, UAE, Germany, Pakistan, Switzerland, Croatia, being the most frequent.) Ninety-nine of these cases were affected by the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which represents 29% of incoming Hague abduction cases handled by the Office of Child’s Issues of the US State Department in 2012. At year-end of 2012 AODVC was handling 124 on-going cases.

As reported by the Hague Convention Domestic Violence Project (www.haguedv.org/reports) 70% of women involved in international child abduction cases under the Hague Convention are fleeing domestic abuse and the failure of judicial systems to protect them and their children.  Abbott vs. Abbott (2010) (www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-645.pdf)brought these issues to the attention of the US Supreme Court.

Between 2010-2012 the Office of Child’s Issues, Consular Division of the US State Department handled 890 incoming Hague Convention on international child abduction cases, with up to 70%, or 623 cases,[3] potentially involving a protective parent fleeing domestic abuse and a Receiving State’s failure to protect. While I have been unable to obtain figures from the US State Department on the annual budget for the Office of Child’s Issues, the 2012 budget for “Strengthening Consular and Management Capabilities[4]”was $3.75 billion. Effectively, millions of dollars per year of the Consular Affairs Division’s budget are used in supporting the abuse of thousands of Americans[5], while none of their resources are being used to assist the victims.

Abusers are well aware of the criminal implications, and the stringent sanctions and incarceration of those who resort to international child abduction, and are freely and frequently using the Hague Convention as a tool to intimidate and abuse their victims. They do so knowing full well that not only will victims not be assisted by Receiving State’s judicial and law enforcement systems, but they will also not be assisted by Sending State’s Consulates, consular affairs division in Sending State’s headquarters, nor Sending State’s judicial system, which is plagued by the same “failure to protect” as the Receiving State.

In my own case not only did my ex-husband repeatedly assure me from the onset that I would be left penniless and incarcerated (prison or psychiatric facility); claiming that all “had been planned.” At the time, I thought his contention was just another example of his schizophrenic, hallucinatory state. But, statistics and documented testimonies show that this is an increasing phenomenon amongst victims of domestic abuse. In my case, all of my assets were illegally misappropriated by the courts and the negligence of my legal counsel, and my incarceration was a very real possibility on several occasions.

Then, when I confronted my lawyers with their overt negligent actions and the violation of my rights, I was always told “Lady, we do this all the time. Who are you going to tell?” And, effectively my petition to the Defensor del Pueblo, Consejo General del Poder Judicial and Instituto de Mujer for an investigation into my case and allegations was totally ignored, even though the professional and criminal negligence of implicated parties is well detailed, documented, and argued (posted on http://worldpulse.com/node/52011 and http://worldpulse.com/node/50602, respectively.)

The culture of “laissez faire” and silencing of victims, apathy of judicial actors towards the plight of victims, failure of judicial regulatory agencies to diligently investigate complaints & sanction infractions of judicial actors, coupled with consular affairs representatives’ non-compliance with art. 5, 36, 37 & 38 of the Convention on Consular Relations and FAM guidelines (victims of crimes/domestic abuse), inter alia, provide the motive, opportunity, and means for abusers to utilize judicial systems and government institutions to abuse their victims.

The mission of Global Expats is to provide comprehensive and practical support to expatriated families around the world; keeping these families together in a productive, supportive environment for all members. It is my greatest desire to reduce the elevated number of expat marriages that end in divorce. However, this absolutely must be accomplished with an “eyes open” approach. The prevalence of domestic abuse in homes around the world, its signs and “symptoms,” it’s devastating effects on the victims and society at large, the obligation to protect all implicated parties, as well as the long-standing traditions and customs (de jure and de facto) that intentionally and unintentionally cover-up and suppress evidence of abuse and silence victims, [6] must be recognized, confronted, and eradicated.

Global Expats Domestic Abuse Prevention Division[7] will provide comprehensive assistance to victims of abuse, with the objective of preventing cases from reaching crisis proportions (ie. cases of international child abduction caused by efforts to protect children from abuse.)  However, in order to be effective, we will require the assistance of American Consulates (as provided for in the Convention of Consular Relations) in assuring due process in foreign courts, as well as demanding accountability of State and non-State actors who violate the rights of American citizens.

I hope by bringing these issues to your attention, the US State Department and American Consulates will review and reassess their present policy of non-compliance with art. 5, 36, 37 & 38 of the Convention of Consular Relations in cases of divorce, custody hearings and/or domestic abuse. The necessity for compliance with the Convention on Consular Relations by American Consulates abroad is of utmost importance in assuring that the rights of Americans are respected in judicial proceedings, as well as in their dealings with the Receiving State’s government and non-government agencies. 

I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.  Please feel free to contact me at Quenby@global-xpats.com or (202) 213-4911 with any questions or requests for additional information.


Quenby Wilcox

Founder – Global Expats




cc[8]: President Barak Obama, White House

US Secretary of State John Kerry, US State Department

Joyce Namde, European Division Director, Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management

Joanne Hunter, Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jim D. Pettit, Overseas Citizens Services, US State Department

Assistant Secretary, Michael H. Posner, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, US State Department

Ambassador-at-Large Stephen J. Rapp, Office of Global Criminal Justice, US State Department

Deputy, Beth Van Schaack, Office of Global Criminal Justice, US State Department

Ambassador Alan D. Solomont, Embassy of the United States Spain

General Consul Peggy Gennatiempo, Embassy of the United States Spain


[1]Under Spanish law and parameters indicated on the Consejo General de Procuradores de España it appears that my procuradores were under an obligation to notify the courts and presiding judge, and/or appropriate authorities as to any irregularities, transgressions, professional negligence, or criminal activity or intent by any judicial actors, and thereby do possess a legal liability and obligation for financial damages in regards my case. Even if they were not authors of said infractions, they become accessories after the fact by their omission of action under Spanish law.

[2] Extrapolated from estimates in Women and Health: Today’s Evidence Tomorrow’s Agenda, World Health Organization 2009, p. 56.

[3] The Office of Child’s Issues does not compile or retain gender statistics in its reporting of incoming or outgoing cases.  Therefore, I have used the common and repeatedly reported rate of 70% for “State failure to protect” (Amnesty International, American State Bar Associations, inter alia)

[4] Consolidating Schedule of Net Costs, US Department of State Fiscal Year 2012 Agency Financial Report, p. 116

[5] Each year the Office of Child’s Issues deals with an average of 300 incoming cases with abused children, which are then condemned to living with the abusive parent for 10-16 years +. (My own children are 19 and 21, but until they are financially self-sufficient, or until I am financially solvent, they cannot defy their fathers orders to have no contact with me.)

[6] See my report   Domestic Abuse as a Human Rights Violation and the Principle of Due Diligence – Spain a Case Study  (http://worldpulse.com/node/55730)  and Abuses of Power in Our Societies and Court Systems & Sexual Abuse of Children and the Failure of Family Courts to Protect Them (http://worldpulse.com/node/36851.)

[7] See p.  14 of  Concept and Structure of Global Expat  www.global-xpats.com/al/documents

[8] Posted on http://worldpulse.com/node/64031