Return Orders (1980 Hague Convention)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th May 2020.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

I have an 18-year-old constituent who has been ordered by a Scottish court to travel to Malta with her baby because of the court’s legal decisions. I am not asking the First Minister to comment on the legal case itself; I am asking whether she thinks that it is right that a vulnerable young individual and her child can be forced to travel abroad to an uncertain future, not knowing whether she and her child will be safe in the middle of a global pandemic. Will the First Minister agree to look at the case?

The First Minister:

With the limited information that I have about the case, I share Alex Rowley’s concerns and have sympathy with those who find themselves in that position. However, I am sure that he will understand that I cannot intervene in a judicial decision, which would mean interfering with the independence of the judiciary in Scotland.

All applications for a return order under the 1980 Hague convention go to the Court of Session and are heard by one of two judges. As I understand it, evidence from both parties was heard in the case and a decision was made. Therefore, although I can sympathise with the consequences of that decision, it would be completely wrong for me to say anything that interfered with the independence of the process. I hope that Alex Rowley will understand that position.