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Requesting Egypt Return Noor and Ramsay Bower to the United States

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 193, calling on the new government of Egypt to honor the rule of law and immediately return American citizens Noor and Ramsey Bower to the United States. It is absolutely appalling and inexcusable that more than three years after a textbook abduction, the new government of Egypt has yet to right the terrible wrong that has been perpetrated upon Noor and Ramsey, as well as upon their father, Colin Bower.

Noor and Ramsey were abducted and hidden with the assistance of the previous Egyptian government August 2009. The boys' mother had lost custody of the children in the United States because of her drug use and psychological problems. Their father, Mr. Bower, was their primary caregiver.

For the last three years, Colin Bower has been doing everything in his power to find out if his sons are safe and to be reunited with them. In July of 2011, he testified before my subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights--and conveyed his frustration over the lack of priority abduction cases receive in U.S. foreign policy.

This sentiment is shared by the thousands of American parents whose American children have been abducted to foreign jurisdictions, often in violation of valid U.S. court orders. Every year, more than a thousand additional families are anguished by an abduction. We are losing our children and are not bringing them home.

At that same hearing, we heard from Michael Elias, an Iraqi veteran from New Jersey, who told this committee of his anguish after his ex-wife used her Japanese consulate connections to abduct Jade and Michael Jr., after the New Jersey court had ordered surrender of passports and joint custody.

His ex-wife flagrantly disregarded those valid court orders telling Michael Elias, ``My country [Japan] will protect me.'' She was right. Both the U.S. embassy personnel and Mr. Elias have been unable to even see the American citizen children since 2008--much less return them to their home.

The U.S. talks about the problem with Japan, and talks, and talks--but Japan has yet to issue and enforce a court order to return a single American child.

In the case of Egypt, we have provided more than $4 billion in aid and debt relief since the abduction of Noor and Ramsey in 2009--despite the fact that Egypt has continued to flagrantly violate valid U.S. court orders, prevent Mr. Bower from seeing his sons, and otherwise aid and abet a kidnapping.

The United States can and must do more to demand that our would-be allies respect the rule of law and return our abducted children. H. Res. 193 is a step in the right direction. Specifically, H. Res. 193 ``urges Egypt and all other nations--such as Japan--to join and fully participate in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and to establish procedures to promptly and equitably address the tragedy of child abductions, given the serious consequences to children of not expeditiously resolving these cases and of denying them access to a parent.''

H. Res. 193 also urges the House of Representatives to take other appropriate measures to ensure that Hague Convention partners return abducted children to the United States in compliance with the Hague Convention's provisions--and to work aggressively for the return of children abducted from the United States to countries that are not Hague Convention Partners and for visitation rights for left-behind parents while return is negotiated, establishing memorandums of understanding where necessary for the expeditious return of children.

Mr. Speaker, it may soon be time for this body to consider additional steps if we do not see immediate cooperation from our would-be allies in the return of American children. H. Res. 193 is ample warning to Egypt, Japan, and other nations that American patience with abductions has run out. I strongly support the passage of H. Res. 193--and the passage of additional steps if the warning is not heeded.

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