Saturday, September 16, 2000

Father to ask Albright to help regain daughter

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — Tom Sylvester, whose daughter was taken to Austria by his former wife, is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Thursday to ask the United States to intervene on his behalf.

        Mr. Sylvester, of Blue Ash, has endured a fruitless, five-year patch of legal and bureaucratic obstacles to try to regain custody of his daughter, Carina, who was 13 months old when her mother, Monika Rossmann, took her from the couple's home in Michigan.

        United States and Austrian courts have ruled in favor of Mr. Sylvester, but Austrian authorities have failed to enforce the rulings and have limited contact with his daughter to supervised visits.

        Mr. Sylvester is in Austria this week to celebrate Carina's sixth birthday and to again press U.S. and Austrian diplomats.

        “No parent should have to go through what Tom Sylvester and other parents of abducted children have had to go through,” said Rep. Steve Chabot, Cincinnati Republican who obtained the unusual private meeting with Ms. Albright. “He's done everything a parent could do. He's followed the rules.”

        Congress approved a nonbinding resolution this year calling on the 48 nations — including the United States and Austria — that have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to honor the terms of the treaty.

        In most cases, countries must agree to return children to the nation of their birth and let the courts sort out custody.

        A 1999 State Department report faulted Austria and a handful of other countries for not abiding by the convention. State Department officials have conceded in the past that the treaty is difficult to enforce and that more than half of the 1,000-plus open U.S. cases involve countries that are not part of the convention.

        Mr. Sylvester and other parents have tried to publicly shame foreign governments into action.


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