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The Hague Convention on Child Abduction of 1980 and Its Implementation in Finland

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Finland ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1994. The Convention was implemented by making use of the so-called transformation techniques, i.e. by drafting and adopting Finnish internal law provisions deemed to be necessary for the proper implementation of the international obligations under the Hague Convention. The overall aim of the implementation provisions has been to make the practical application of the Convention as effective and speedy as possible and for this purpose to go even further than necessarily required. The most important features of these national arrangements are the following:

– The Hague Convention rules on the return of an abducted child have been made retroactive.

– Only one court, the Court of Appeal of Helsinki, is competent to receive applications and make orders for the return of children. Besides, an order for the return is always immediately enforceable, unless the Supreme Court, upon appeal, orders the stay of enforcement.

– The `fundamental principles' exception in Article 20 of the Convention cannot be invoked against the application in Finnish return proceedings. According to Article 20 the return of the child can be refused where the return would not be permitted by the fundamental principles relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the requested State.

The first cases indicate that the retroactive application of the Convention provided by the Finnish Act has been less successful. The courts have shown obvious reluctance towards the ordering of the return in these cases whereas in the `new' cases the Court of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court have generally followed the spirit of the Convention in a loyal manner.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Legal Advisor, Ministry of Justice, Helsinki


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