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CHILD ABDUCTION ACT
Act 12/1995, 22/2001 (s. 4), 6/2005 (s. 34)
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
- Short title.
- Convention to have effect in Zimbabwe.
- Contracting States.
- Central Authority.
- Judicial authority.
- Secretary may require report on child.
- Locus standi of Secretary.
- Interim powers of High Court.
- Declaratory orders by High Court.
- Matters not to be decided until question of child’s return determined.
- Proof of foreign decisions and determinations.
- Costs of applications.
AN ACT to give effect within Zimbabwe to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which was signed at the Hague on the 25th October, 1980, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
[Date of commencement : 1st June, 1996.]
1 Short title
This Act may be cited as the Child Abduction Act [Chapter 5:05].
In this Act—
“child” means a person under the age of sixteen years;
“Convention” means the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which was signed at the Hague on the 25th October, 1980, the text of which is set out in the Schedule;
“Minister” means the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs or any other Minister to whom the President may, from time to time, assign the administration of this Act;
“Secretary” means the Secretary of the Ministry for which the Minister is responsible.
3 Convention to have effect in Zimbabwe
Subject to this Act, the Convention shall have the force of law in Zimbabwe.
4 Contracting States
- For the purpose of this Act, the Contracting States to the Convention, other than Zimbabwe, shall be those for the time being specified by the Minister by notice in a statutory instrument.
- A notice in terms of subsection (1) shall specify the date of the coming into force of the Convention as between Zimbabwe and any Contracting State specified in the notice and, unless the notice otherwise provides, the Convention shall apply as between Zimbabwe and that State only in relation to wrongful removals and retentions occurring on or after that date.
- References to a Contracting State in subsections (1) and (2) shall be construed, where appropriate, as references to a territory or territorial unit specified in a declaration made by a Contracting State under Article 39 or 40 of the Convention.
- Central Authority
The function of a Central Authority under the Convention shall be discharged in Zimbabwe by the Secretary.
- Judicial authority
The court with jurisdiction to entertain applications under the Convention shall be the High Court.
7 Secretary may require report on child
- Where the Secretary is requested in terms of Article 7 (d) of the Convention to provide information relating to a child, he may request the Director of Social Welfare or any other officer of the Public Service to report to him in writing on any matter which the Secretary may specify to enable him to provide the information to the person requesting it.
- The Director of Social Welfare or officer referred to in subsection (1) shall comply with any request made under that subsection.
8 Locus standi of Secretary
Notwithstanding any other law, in the discharge of his functions as a Central Authority under the Convention, the Secretary may institute or defend any proceedings in the High Court, or intervene as a party in any such proceedings.
9 Interim powers of High Court
Where proceedings have been instituted in the High Court under the Convention, the Court may, at any time before determining the issues in the case, give such interim directions as it thinks appropriate for the purpose of securing the welfare of the child concerned or preventing changes in the circumstances relevant to the determination of the issues.
10 Declaratory orders by High Court
The High Court may, on an application made for the purposes of Article 15 of the Convention by any person who appears to the court to have an interest in the matter, declare that the removal of any child from, or his retention outside, Zimbabwe was wrongful within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
11 Matters not to be decided until question of child’s return determined
The reference in Article 16 of the Convention to deciding on the merits of rights of custody shall be construed as a reference to making, varying or revoking an order for the custody of a child in terms of the Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06], the Guardianship of Minors Act [Chapter 5:08] or the Matrimonial Causes Act [Chapter 5:13].
[Section as amended by section 34 of Act 6 of 2005]
12 Proof of foreign decisions and determinations
- For the purposes of Article 14 of the Convention, in any proceedings in the High Court under the Convention, a document purporting to be an authenticated copy of a decision or determination of a court or judicial authority outside Zimbabwe shall be admissible on its production by any person.
- For the purposes of Articles 14 and 30 of the Convention, any document referred to in Article 8 of the Convention, or an authenticated copy of any such document, shall be sufficient evidence of the matters stated in it.
- A copy of a document shall be duly authenticated for the purposes of this section if it bears the seal, or is signed by, a judge or officer of the court or authority in question.
- This section shall not be construed as limiting the power of the High Court to have regard to— (a) any finding or decision of a court in a foreign country or territory; or
- any written law of a foreign country or territory; or
- any decision given by the High Court or the Supreme Court as to the law of a foreign country or territory; in terms of section 25 of the Civil Evidence Act [Chapter 8:01].
13 Costs of applications
Zimbabwe having made a reservation provided for in the third paragraph of Article 26 of the Convention, the costs mentioned in that paragraph shall not be borne by the State or by any Minister or public officer in his capacity as such, except in so far as they are so borne by virtue of the grant of legal aid under any enactment.