POAM is concerned with the interface between domestic violence and international parental child abduction. The project received funding from the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme and focuses on work to prevent and combat gender-based violence and violence against children in the context of international parental child abduction. The project is coordinated by the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom (Scotland) and involves three further partner universities – the University of Münich, Germany, the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy and the University of Osijek, Croatia.

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence against women and as it can occur in any intimate or familial relationship; it matters not that the victim and perpetrator are no longer living together. This is key in the context of parental child abduction. POAM addresses the problem of threatened or continuing domestic violence against mothers who have abducted their child(ren) across international borders and are involved in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (‘1980 Hague Convention’) and Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (‘Brussels IIa’). This scenario emerges in circumstances where the child abduction is motivated by domestic violence from the left-behind father who has filed an application for the return of the child (and indirectly the mother) to the State of the child’s habitual residence (‘the State of origin’).

Although it is not mandatory for the abducting parent to return together with the child, the abducting mother (in particular if she is the primary carer), will normally accompany the child back to the State of origin, even if it means that she has to compromise her own safety. This is an unintended consequence of the 1980 Hague Convention and Brussels IIa, the seriousness of which, however, is exacerbated by the fact that there is a lack of consideration for the safety of the returning parent in either of these instruments.

POAM focuses on the utility of the Regulation 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (‘Protection Measures Regulation’) and the Directive 2011/99/EU on the European Protection Order (‘European Protection Order Directive’) in the context of parental child abductions motivated by acts of domestic violence. The aim is to develop good practice and ensure that relevant professionals are trained in the application of the Protection Measures Regulation and the European Protection Order Directive in child abductions committed against the background of domestic violence. A more detailed description of the aims is set out in work packages which can be found in the objectives section.

POAM Project Partners