The justice minister raised a humanitarian issue with his counterpart in China this week, regarding a Cypriot father who is searching for his teenage daughter since 2013.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, who was on an official visit to China earlier this week, met with Li Shulei the Chinese deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. The minister later phoned in on a live television programme in Cyprus, saying that he had raised the issue with Chinese authorities as he did back in June 2018 as well during a previous visit to the People’s Republic.
According to local media, a Cypriot man had a child with a Chinese woman, who had been living for many years on the island and was a naturalized Cypriot citizen.
Against the man’s wishes, the mother managed to obtain a passport for their daughter who was ten years old at the time. She also signed a family court document in 2013, allowing her to take the girl to China to see her mom’s native country and meet that side of her family. The agreement also required that the daughter return to Cyprus.
Both cases came to highlight challenges in international child custody battles when countries have no extradition treaties
The mom and daughter duo came back from their trip in September 2013 with reports saying the mother failed to surrender the passport in violation of the terms set by the Cypriot family court. Then three months later, in late December, the mother left Cyprus again with her daughter.
“When one parent takes the child and goes away without the knowledge of the other parent who is denied communication access to the child, then this is considered abduction,” the minister said.
Nicolaou described the case as a humanitarian issue and called the incident an “abduction” during his televised interview.
“This is about a man who has made several attempts to establish communication with his child,” he added.
Last week, local media reported that five people were expected to face charges in a similar case, the abduction of a 4-year-old girl in 2017, whose Norwegian father came looking for her in Cyprus after the mother reportedly left Norway with her daughter without his knowledge.
On 27 April 2017, Leif Torkel Grimsrud came to Cyprus and took his daughter by the hand outside her kindergarten in Nicosia, setting in motion an unprecedented manhunt where he was accused of kidnapping the little girl.
He eventually got away and travelled back to Norway with his daughter, but months later he contacted authorities in an effort to discuss joined custody. The Cypriot mother was reunited with the little girl in Norway last October when the two flew to Cyprus, while the issue of parental custody was still pending according to sources.
Grimsrud is still listed on the Interpol webpage, shown as wanted by Cyprus authorities for conspiracy to commit felony, conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, kidnapping from lawful guardianship, abduction of girls under sixteen, and assault.
Both cases came to highlight challenges in international child custody battles when countries have no extradition treaties, while it is still unknown how many such cases are still pending involving a Cypriot and a foreign parent.