Mother petitions Obama to bring allegedly kidnapped daughter back from Africa
A distraught mother whose daughter was reportedly abducted has launched a campaign on the White House petition website in a last-ditch attempt to encourage the federal government to take action.
Dr. Noelle Hunter, from Morehead, Kentucky, is asking President Barack Obama to direct Secretary of State John Kerry to employ diplomatic means to secure her daughter’s safe return.
The petition, which was created two weeks ago, needs 100,000 signatures by March 27th to trigger an official response from the administration. So far, there are just over 1,000 signatures.
Hunter admits she is has an uphill battle ahead of her.
“I realize 100,000 signatures is a daunting figure, but I must try. I have to do everything possible to bring Muna home, and that means reaching out to President Obama,” she told theGrio.
Hunter’s 5-year-old, Maayimuna “Muna” N’Diaye, was allegedly kidnapped by her father and taken to his native Mali days after Christmas in 2011. Her ex-husband, Ibrahim N’Diaye, according to Hunter, failed to bring Muna back after scheduled days with his daughter.
The FBI later confirmed they’d illegally traveled one-way from JFK Airport to war-torn Bamako, Mali, West Africa. This prompted Interpol to issue a yellow notice for Muna. Hunter’s ex-husband now has a warrant out for his arrest. Muna is a U.S. citizen.
Hunter says her Muslim ex-husband, who is from an influential and politically well-connected family, took matters into his own hands because he refused to accept the joint custody ruling.
When things broke down he refused to obey the laws of the United States and “decided to follow the rules of his own country and traditions,” she says.
Over the last 15 months, Hunter says she’s done absolutely everything to get her child back home, from personally meeting representatives of the Mali government to bringing the matter to state leaders.
For instance, following a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in December, he sent a letter to Mali Ambassador Al-Mamoun Keita, encouraging the country’s cooperation for Muna’s return.
This month, McConnell also wrote to the U.S. ambassador to Mali, Mary Beth Leonard, asking for more “vigor” in U.S. efforts to bring Muna home.
She has also managed to get the U.S. Embassy in Bamako to secure two welfare and whereabouts checks on Muna.
Referring to the online petition Hunter says, “There is nowhere else to go apart from going to the top.” She adds, “I am absolutely relentless in my resolve to bring her home.”
“We want Muna to come back home to her mother,” says Natalie Wilson, co-founder of Black and Missing Foundation. “We’re asking for the public to get involved and sign this petition to help her come back to her mother who misses her dearly.”
“Ultimately, this issue of international child abduction needs to be before the highest levels of government until there’s some policy change to minimize this from happening,” says Hunter.
Indeed, Chris Schmidt of the U.S. law firm of Bryan Cave LLP says the problem of international parental child abductions in the U.S. is rising because it is relatively easy to accomplish.
“The United States, unlike most western countries, allows one parent to leave the country with a child without the written consent of the other parent,” says Schmidt. “There are no exit controls that easily prevent international child abduction.”
Countries like the Republic of Mali are of particular concern because “most African, Asian and Middle East countries are not signatories of the Hague Abduction Convention,” adds Schmidt.
“It’s a tremendous problem,” he adds. “If a parent is able to leave the U.S. to a country that hasn’t signed the international treaty, the left-at-home parent has limited choices about how to get their child back home.
“Either they can fight for custody in the foreign country or try to get the U.S. State Department to intervene on diplomatic terms. But there is not guarantee or treaty obligation that will force a foreign country to comply.”
TheGrio attempted to contact the White House for comment but did not get a response.
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