Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA-07) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland today requesting reforms to protect children and families experiencing domestic violence. The letter requests expanding the implementation of the Hague Convention within the Department of Justice to include domestic violence as a “grave risk” when resolving international custody disputes. The lawmakers also recommend the DOJ lead a national campaign to increase awareness and training on the dynamics of abuse, recognize red flags, and implement appropriate protective measures.

“Our goal in seeking DOJ’s answers to the questions is to ensure that the United States prioritize the safety and well-being of children and parental victims of domestic violence under the Hague Convention.,”  Reps. McBath and Fitzpatrick write. “In our view, one way to do so is to explicitly include domestic violence as a definition of a ‘grave risk.’ This would emphasize the seriousness of domestic violence and recognize that it poses significant harm to both children and protective parents. Another way would be to establish a connection between violence against a child and the risk it poses to the protective parent. By recognizing that harm to the child can directly affect the well-being and safety of the protective parent, our judicial system can better assess the risks involved and take appropriate measures to protect both the child and the parent.”

“My deepest gratitude goes to Congresswoman Lucy McBath and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick for their leadership in writing to Attorney General Garland regarding the urgent need to reform the judicial system as it pertains to The Hague Convention and cases involving domestic violence victims and refugees. Their bipartisan letter seeks to engage the Department of Justice at the highest level, addressing the potential risk of children being returned to dangerous or abusive situations,” said Veronika Mudra, the President of White Ribbon USA. “As a refugee myself, under the domestic violence protection program from Ukraine and a respondent under the Hague Convention, I am among the less than 1% of cases in which a child remained with his or her protective mother, preventing being returned to an abuser.”  Mudra concluded, “This congressional support is invaluable to me as a president of White Ribbon USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to awareness, education and advocacy campaigns for survivors of domestic abuse. DOJ’s collaboration to reform Hague Convention procedures in the U.S. is critical to setting the correct example for other countries to better protect survivors of domestic abuse.”

Click here to read the letter.