Absentee fathers from the diaspora will have nowhere to hide in Kenya if Parliament approves a key treaty to enforce maintenance orders issued by foreign courts.
Attorney General Githu Muigai has asked the National Assembly to ratify the convention; which will tighten bolts on deadbeat fathers who shirk their parental responsibilities abroad by seeking refuge in Kenya.
Under the treaty, men who run away after siring children with women in foreign lands will still be subject to maintenance orders in their former countries of residence, which means that they could still be compelled to provide for their love-children and their mothers.
“The object of the convention is to ensure effective international recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance by establishing a comprehensive system of co-operation between the authorities of the contracting states; making available applications for the establishment of maintenance decisions; providing for recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions and requiring effective measures for the prompt enforcement of maintenance decisions,” reads Article 1 of the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
“The Cabinet is requested to take note of the contents of this Cabinet Memorandum and to approve the ratification of the convention,” the AG’s memo to the Cabinet said.
Some Kenyan men have returned to the country and married other women after siring children abroad.
The most famous case is that of former American President Barack Obama’s father who left his family in Hawaii and relocated to Kenya to raise another family.
Should the country ratify the convention, the ‘sins’ of such men will follow them to their motherland and they could be forced to fork out tidy sums of money to be sent to their former partners.
The provisions of the treaty will apply even in cases where the parents may not have been legally married.
“The provisions of this convention shall apply to children regardless of the marital status of the parents,” it reads.
Among the countries that have ratified or are bound by the convention are the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Norway, Germany and Belgium.
Others are Turkey, Austria, Greece, Ireland and Italy.
The convention will be applicable to maintenance of persons under 21 years of age.
The request for approval of the treaty was tabled in the National Assembly last week.
The AG is also seeking the ratification of another convention which will block parents seeking custody of a child from seeking redress in countries other than those
“The primary intention of the convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention of a child thereby deterring parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court,” states the agreement.