The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1996 (Act 72 of 1996)

South Africa ratified the Convention in 1996 and the Act came into operation on 1 October 1997. The Convention's main object is to enforce rights of custody over a child(ren) who has been wrongfully removed to or kept in a foreign country in breach of those rights and to secure the prompt return of the child(ren) to South Africa.

The role of the Central Authority

  • A contracting state is bound to set up an administrative body known as the “Central Authority”, which has the duty of tracing the child and taking steps to secure the child’s return.
  • In South Africa the Chief Family Advocate is designated as Central Authority.
  • The Central Authority assists in both “outgoing” cases (when a child has been wrongfully taken from South Africa to a foreign country or retained in a foreign country, as well as “incoming” cases (when a child has been wrongfully brought to, or retained in South Africa )
  • A party may submit an application for the return of a child, or access to a child to the Central Authority.

What's New