Abducted children hide in Dutch embassy
6 July 2006, AMSTERDAM — Two children, who were abducted by their Syrian father, have been hiding out in the Dutch embassy in Damascus for more than a week.
6 July 2006
AMSTERDAM — Two children, who were abducted by their Syrian father, have been hiding out in the Dutch embassy in Damascus for more than a week.
Ammar, 12 and his 10-year-old sister, Sara, walked into the embassy last week and begged for help, the Foreign Ministry in The Hague confirmed on Thursday.
"The Syrian press claims they were abducted by embassy personnel but this is totally untrue," a spokesperson said. The work rosters have been changed to ensure staff members are with the children in the embassy day and night.
The Syrian authorities have no power to remove the children physically and give them back to their father as the embassy is on Dutch soil.
The legal situation is more complicated. The right of parental authority rests with the mother under Dutch law. But according to Syrian law the father can exercise control over the children as soon as they step outside the embassy.
"The ambassador and the director-general of the ministry are working hard to find a solution that puts the interests of the children first," the Ministry spokesperson told newspaper 'De Telegraaf'. "Diplomatically, this is a very sensitive question".
According to the Ministry, the father is registered in the Netherlands as a child abductor. The mother, Janneke Schoonhoven, lives in the Netherlands.
She has been in contact by telephone with the children since they arrived at the embassy and hopes to be re-united with them soon.
Ammar will be 13th next week and he has told his mother that his birthday wish is to be able to celebrate it in the Netherlands.
Schoonhoven brought the case to television programme 'Vermist' (missing) earlier this year. Presenter Jaap Jongbloed and his camera crew were briefly detained by the Syrian authorities after they confronted the father.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news