Parent-child abduction cases surge in Switzerland

Parent-child abduction cases surge in Switzerland

Cases of child abductions carried out by a parent are becoming more and more common in Switzerland, according to data from the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ). The rise in marriages between couples of different nationalities has been partly blamed. 

More people in Switzerland married to foreign nationals

One of the reasons given for the rise in parental child abductions is the increasing number of people in Switzerland that are married to foreign nationals, according to Le Matin Dimanche. In 2011, 35 requests for the return of children were sent by the Swiss government to other states that are signatories of the Hague Convention on child abduction. By 2021, this number had risen sharply to 68 requests. 

In families that are bi-national where partners are seeking a divorce in Switzerland, “it often happens that people want to return to their country of origin and take their children with them", Ingrid Ryser, spokesperson for the FOJ, told Swissinfo. For internationals, the prospect of being a single parent in a foreign country without the help of a spouse, family or friends can be especially daunting and stressful, particularly if the price of child care is high. However, for abducted children, the experience can be terrifying and lonely, since many are forced to stop attending school and don't get to see their friends again. 

Women in Switzerland more likely to abduct their child

According to the FOJ data, in 75 percent of cases, it is the women that abduct their own children. Women are also much more likely to refuse their co-parent’s visitation rights. 

Under Swiss law, it does not matter whether a child’s parents are married or not, children are classed as being under jointly-exercised parental care. Only in very specific cases are children abducted from or brought to Switzerland not returned to their families. The penalties for parental-child abduction can carry heavy fines or jail sentences if reported to the police. These instances can also have repercussions for child custody battles between parents in the future.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

Read more



Leave a comment