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United States v. Amer

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
110 F.3d 873 (2d Cir. 1997)


Ahmed Amer (defendant) and Mona Amer were married in Egypt and had three children, two of whom were born after the Amers moved to the United States. The Amers’ relationship deteriorated, and Ahmed moved out of the marital home. The Amers did not divorce or formally separate and did not make a custody arrangement. Ahmed visited the children approximately once per week. Ahmed wished to return the children to Egypt, but Mona would not agree. During one of Ahmed’s visits, Mona went out shopping, and Ahmed took the children to Egypt. Ahmed was charged with violation of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (Act). The Act made it a felony to remove a child from the United States with the intent to obstruct another person’s parental rights. The Act provided for only three affirmative defenses to the crime, specifically that the defendant was: (1) acting within the provisions of a court custody order, (2) escaping domestic violence, or (3) failing to return the child due to circumstances beyond the defendant’s control. Congress enacted the Act in response to the fact that few countries had ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention), which sought to prevent international child abductions. Congress intended the Act to be a secondary option to the Hague Convention and did not intend the Act to detract from the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention contained a variety of additional affirmative defenses that Ahmed sought to invoke. Egypt was not a signatory to the Hague Convention. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York convicted Ahmed. Ahmed appealed, arguing that the court erred by not permitting him to invoke affirmative defenses contained in the Hague Convention.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Newman, C.J.)

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