U.S. Embassy Staff in Nepal Assaulted While Preventing the Re-Abduction to India of an Eight-Year-Old American Girl Who Safely Reached Nepal

U.S. Embassy Staff in Nepal Assaulted While Preventing the Re-Abduction to India of an Eight-Year-Old American Girl Who Safely Reached Nepal
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U.S. Embassy Staff in Nepal Assaulted While Preventing the Re-Abduction to India of an Eight-Year-Old American Girl Who Safely Reached Nepal (Washington, D.C.) — Following five years of orders from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois demanding the return of an abducted American child, Meher Goel, to her father and sole legal custodian in Chicago, the Nepal Supreme Court is expected to decide her fate at an official hearing in Kathmandu next week. On Saturday, April 16, when the girl’s father, Karan Goel, had visitation with his abducted daughter in India, he crossed the border to Nepal and traveled directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu. The American Embassy swiftly issued a passport for Meher because the father is her sole guardian, as appointed by the Illinois court. When U.S. officials accompanied Karan and Meher to the Nepal Immigration Department on Tuesday, April 19 to obtain an immigration stamp for Meher, the girl’s mother and several men and women physically assaulted the U.S. Embassy personnel who escorted the family into the immigration office. U.S. Embassy staff was repeatedly stricken with blows and injured and Karan was bitten on the arm.

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Karan Goel and his daughter are now in hiding with the support of U.S. diplomatic security provided by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, which has intervened to provide assistance to the family. At the upcoming hearing, the Supreme Court of Nepal will decide whether to deport the girl to her country of citizenship, the U.S., or to India where she has no legal status. Meher Goel is a natural-born U.S. citizen born in Chicago, Illinois. Following her abduction, the child has lived as an illegal migrant in India for five years, after the expiration of her Indian tourist five years ago, and the expiration of her U.S. passport three years ago.

Human rights lawyer Jared Genser, counsel to the Goel family, states, “This case could not be more clear. Meher Goel, who is only a U.S. citizen, was abducted by her mother in India in 2017. Days after her abduction, a U.S. court demanded the child’s return to her father Karan Goel in Chicago, where, as confirmed by the State Department, he has sole legal custody of his daughter. There is no legal basis under either Nepalese or international law for Meher to be sent anywhere other than the United States. I am confident the Government of Nepal and its judiciary will do just that, ensuring that the child rightfully returns to her country of citizenship and legal custodial parent. We are grateful to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for all its help and support in making this happen as quickly as possible, for providing ongoing security for Meher and for finally bringing an end to a bitter and traumatic chapter in the life of this American child.”

Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has deferred the matter to the Supreme Court. Last week, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Mark Kelly, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Mondaire Jones met with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and requested the expeditious return of Meher Goel to the U.S. International child abduction advocates sent a letter to the U.S. State Department on April 29 demanding the child’s immediate return to the U.S.

In January 2017, Meher was abducted by her mother in India, just before her third birthday, during a family trip. In January 2017, shortly after the abduction, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois ordered that Meher be returned to the U.S., and found that the child’s retention in India by the mother constituted an abduction. Indian courts declined on two occasions to award the girl’s mother interim legal custody, held they could not order permanent custody in her favor, and found that Karan Goel had been a “loving, caring and affectionate spouse and doting father.”

Nepali law states that disputes of paternal authority “shall be governed by the law of the country of nationality of the son or daughter.”  Since Meher is an American citizen, the U.S custody order and order for Meher’s immediate return to Chicago by Illinois state court provides a clear legal basis for the child’s return to her sole country of citizenship.

U.S. Embassy Staff in Nepal Assaulted While Preventing the Re-Abduction to India of an Eight-Year-Old American Girl Who Safely Reached Nepal

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Monica Gordon for Cook County Commissioner

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