Adopted at Mexico, D.F.,
Mexico, on March 18, 1994, at the Fifth Inter-American Specialized
Conference on Private International Law (CIDIP-V)
The States Parties to this
CONSIDERING the importance
of ensuring comprehensive and effective protection for minors, through
appropriate mechanisms to guarantee respect for their rights;
AWARE that the international
traffic in minors is a universal concern;
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION
conventions on international protection of minors, particularly the
provisions of Articles 11 and 35 of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20,
CONVINCED of the need to
regulate civil and penal aspects of the international traffic in minors;
REAFFIRMING the importance
of international cooperation to achieve effective protection of the best
interests of minors,
Have agreed upon the
The purpose of the present
Convention, with a view to protection of the fundamental rights of minors
and their best interests, is the prevention and punishment of the
international traffic in minors as well as the regulation of its civil and
Accordingly, the States
Parties to this Convention undertake to:
a) ensure the protection of
minors in consideration of their best interests;
b) institute a system of
mutual legal assistance among the States Parties, dedicated to the
prevention and punishment of the international traffic in minors, as well
as adopt related administrative and legal provisions to that effect; and
c) ensure the prompt return
of minors who are victims of international traffic to the State of their
habitual residence, bearing in mind the best interests of the minors.
This Convention shall apply
to any minor who is habitually resident in a State Party or is located in
a State Party at the time when an act of international traffic occurs in
respect of him or her.
For the purpose of the
a) "Minor" means any human
being below the age of eighteen.
b) "International traffic in
minors" means the abduction, removal or retention, or attempted abduction,
removal or retention, of a minor for unlawful purposes or by unlawful
c) "Unlawful purpose"
includes, among others, prostitution, sexual exploitation, servitude or
any other purpose unlawful in either the State of the minor's habitual
residence or the State Party where the minor is located.
d) "Unlawful means"
includes, among others, kidnaping, fraudulent or coerced consent, the
giving or receipt of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent
of the parents, persons or institution having care of the child, or any
other means unlawful in either the State of the minor's habitual residence
or the State Party where the minor is located.
This Convention shall also
cover the civil aspects of the wrongful removal, transfer, or retention of
minors internationally, not dealt with by other international conventions
on this subject.
To the extent possible,
States Parties shall cooperate with States that are not Parties in
preventing and punishing international traffic in minors, and in
protecting and caring for minors who are victims of that wrongful act.
The competent authorities of
a State Party are to notify the competent authorities of a State that is
not a Party whenever a minor is within its territory who has been a victim
of international traffic in minors in a State Party.
For the purposes of the
present Convention, each State Party shall designate a Central Authority
and shall inform the General Secretariat of the Organization of American
States of that designation.
A federal State, or a State
in which several legal systems apply, or a State with autonomous
territorial units may designate more than one Central Authority,
specifying the legal or territorial area covered by each of them. The
State making use of this possibility shall designate the Central Authority
to which all communications should be addressed.
Should a State Party
designate more than one Central Authority, it shall so inform the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
States Parties shall protect
the minor's interests with a view to ensuring that all procedures applied
pursuant to the present Convention shall remain confidential.
The States Parties undertake
to adopt effective measures, under their domestic law, to prevent and
severely punish the international traffic in minors defined in this
The States Parties to the
present Convention undertake to:
a) assist each other
promptly and expeditiously through their Central Authorities, as permitted
by the domestic laws of each State and by applicable international
treaties, to conduct judicial and administrative proceedings, to take
evidence, and to take any other procedural steps that may be necessary for
fulfilling the objectives of this Convention;
b) establish through their
Central Authorities mechanisms for the exchange of information about any
domestic statute, case law, administrative practices, statistics and
modalities regarding international traffic in minors in their States; and
c) order such measures as
may be necessary to remove any obstacles that might affect the enforcement
of this Convention in their States.
The following shall have
competence in cases of crimes involving international traffic in minors:
a) the State Party where the
wrongful conduct occurred;
b) the State Party that is
the habitual residence of the minor;
c) the State Party in which
the alleged offender is located if said offender has not been extradited.
d) the State Party in which
the minor who is a victim of said traffic is located.
For the purposes of the
preceding paragraph, the State Party that first conducted formal
proceedings concerning the wrongful act shall have preference.
If one of the States Parties
where extradition is subject to the existence of a treaty receives a
request for extradition from a State Party with which it has no such
treaty, or if it has such a treaty, this crime is not among the
extraditable offenses, it may consider the present Convention as the legal
grounds needed to grant extradition in the case of the international
traffic in minors.
Further, States Parties that
do not make extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty shall
recognize the international traffic in minors as a basis for extradition
between them. Where no extradition treaty exists, extradition shall be
subject to the other conditions required by the domestic laws of the
The actions taken in
accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall not prevent the
competent authorities of the State Party where the minor is located from
ordering, at any time, said minor's immediate return to the State of his
or her habitual residence, bearing in mind the best interests of the
A request for locating and
returning a minor under the present Convention shall be lodged by those
entitled to do so by the laws of the State where the minor habitually
The judicial or
administrative authorities of the State Party of the minor's habitual
residence, or those of the State Party where the minor is or is assumed to
be retained, shall be competent to hear the request for the minor's
location and return, at the option of the complainants.
When in the complainants'
view there are urgent reasons, the request may be submitted to the
judicial or administrative authorities of the State Party where the
wrongful act occurred.
The request for locating and
returning shall not require authentication and shall be processed through
the Central Authorities or directly through the competent authorities
referred to in Article 13 of the present Convention. The requested
authorities shall decide upon the most expeditious procedures for
After receiving the request,
the requested authorities shall order the necessary steps taken in
accordance with their domestic laws to initiate, facilitate, and assist
the judicial and administrative procedures involved in locating and
returning the minor. In addition, steps shall be taken to ensure the
immediate return of the minor, and where necessary, to ensure his or her
care, custody or provisional guardianship, depending on the circumstances,
and, as a preventive measure, to bar the minor from being wrongfully
removed to another State.
The request, stating grounds
for location and return of the minor, shall be lodged within one hundred
and twenty days after the wrongful removal or retention of the minor has
been detected. If the request for location and return is lodged by a State
Party, the latter shall do so within one hundred and eighty days.
When it is necessary to take
action before locating the minor, the above-mentioned period shall run
from the day on which a person or authority entitled to file the request
is informed that the minor has been located.
Irrespective of the above,
the authorities of the State Party where the minor is retained may at any
time order his or her return if it is in the minor's best interests.
The authentication or
similar formalities otherwise required shall be unnecessary when requests
for cooperation encompassed by this Convention are transmitted via
consular or diplomatic channels or via the Central Authorities, and when
conveyed directly from one tribunal to another in the border area of the
States Parties. No authentication in the requesting State Party shall be
required in the case of related documents returned via the same channels.
Where necessary, the
requests shall be translated into the official language or languages of
the State Party to which they are addressed. With respect to attachments,
a translation of the summary of the essential information shall suffice.
Having confirmed that a
victim of traffic in minors is present within their jurisdiction, the
competent authorities of a State Party shall take such immediate measures
as may be necessary for the minor's protection, including those of a
preventive nature to ensure that the minor is not improperly removed to
The Central Authorities
shall inform the competent authorities of the State of the minor's
previous habitual residence of all such measures. The intervening
authorities shall take such steps as may be necessary to keep the persons
or authorities seeking the minor's location and return duly informed of
the measures adopted.
In keeping with the purposes
of this Convention, the Central Authorities of the States Parties shall
exchange information and cooperate with their competent judicial and
administrative authorities on all matters concerning control of the entry
of minors into and departure from their territories.
Adoptions and other similar
legal proceedings performed in a State Party shall be subject to annulment
if they had their origin or purpose in international traffic in minors.
In such annulment, the
minor's best interests shall be taken into account at all times.
The annulment shall be
subject to the law and the competent authorities of the State where the
adoption or legal proceedings concerned took place.
Care or custody of a minor
may be revoked whenever it has its origin or purpose in the international
traffic in minors, under the same conditions provided for in the preceding
A request for locating and
returning a minor may be lodged without prejudice to the annulment and
revocation actions provided for in Articles 18 and 19.
In any proceeding provided
for under this chapter, the competent authority may order the person or
organization responsible for international traffic in minors to pay the
costs and expenses of locating and returning the minor if such person or
organization is a party to the proceeding.
A person or authority
lodging a request for the return or, where applicable, the competent
authority may bring a civil action to recover costs, including legal fees
and the expenses of locating and returning the minor, unless said costs
were already assessed in a criminal proceeding or a proceeding under this
The competent authority or
any injured person or authority may bring a civil action for damages
against the persons or organizations responsible for the international
traffic in minors involving the minor.
The States Parties shall
adopt the measures needed to ensure that no costs are charged for
proceedings to secure the return of the minor, in accordance with their
laws and shall advise persons legitimately interested in the return of the
minor of the public defender services, benefits to the needy and other
forms of free legal aid to which they may be entitled under the laws and
regulations of the respective States Parties.
Each State Party may, at the
time of signature, ratification, or accession to the present Convention or
at any time thereafter, declare that it will recognize and execute
criminal judgments handed down in other States Parties in respect of
awards of damages resulting from the international traffic in minors.
In the case of a State which
has two or more systems of law applicable in different territorial units
with respect to matters covered by the Convention, any reference to:
a) the law of the State
shall be construed as referring to the law in the territorial unit in
b) habitual residence in
that State shall be construed as referring to habitual residence in a
territorial unit of that State;
c) the competent authorities
of that State shall be construed as referring to those authorized to act
in the relevant territorial unit.
If a State has two or more
territorial units in which different systems of law apply in relation to
the matters dealt with in this Convention, it may, at the time of
signature, ratification or accession, declare that this Convention shall
extend to all its territorial units or to only one or more of them.
Such declaration may be
modified by subsequent declarations, which shall expressly indicate the
territorial unit or units to which the Convention applies. Such subsequent
declarations shall be transmitted to the General Secretariat of the
Organization of American States, and shall become effective ninety days
after the date of their receipt.
Each State Party may, at the
time of signature, ratification or accession to the present Convention or
at any time thereafter, declare that it will not entertain in any civil
suit a challenge to the existence of the facts of the crime or the guilt
of the person convicted when a conviction has been handed down for this
crime in another State Party.
The competent authorities in
border areas of the States Parties may, at any time, directly agree on
more expeditious procedures to locate and return minors than those
provided for in the present Convention and without prejudice thereto.
None of the provisions in
the present Convention shall be interpreted as restricting the more
favorable practices that the competent authorities of the States Parties
may agree to follow for the matters covered by this Convention.
This Convention shall be
open to signature by the member states of the Organization of American
This Convention shall be
subject to ratification. The instruments of ratification shall be
deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American
This Convention shall remain
open for accession by any other State after it has entered into force. The
instruments of accession shall be deposited with the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States.
Each State may, at the time
of signature, ratification or accession, make reservations to this
Convention, provided that each reservation concerns one or more specific
provisions and is not incompatible with the purposes and objectives of
None of the provisions in
this Convention shall be construed as limiting other bilateral or
multilateral treaties or other agreements entered into between the
This Convention shall enter
into force for the ratifying States on the thirtieth day following the
date of deposit of the second instrument of ratification.
For each State ratifying or
acceding to the Convention after the deposit of the second instrument of
ratification, the Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day
after deposit by such State of its instrument of ratification or
This Convention shall remain
in force indefinitely, but any of the States Parties may denounce it. The
instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States. After one year from the date of
deposit of the instrument of denunciation, the Convention shall no longer
be in force for the denouncing State.
The original instrument of
this Convention, the English, French, Portuguese and Spanish texts of
which are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which shall forward an
authenticated copy of its text to the Secretariat of the United Nations
for registration and publication in accordance with Article 102 of its
Charter. The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States
shall notify the Member States of the Organization and the States that
have acceded to the Convention of the signatures, deposits of instruments
of ratification, accession and denunciation, as well as of reservations,
if any, and of their withdrawal.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the
undersigned Plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized thereto by their
respective Governments, do hereby sign the present Convention.
DONE AT MEXICO, D.F.,
MEXICO, this eighteenth day of March, one thousand nine hundred and