Father says Sala IV court experts never called him

Both the father and Stateside grandparents of Emily Koyama report that they never have been contacted by social workers or psychologists who were given the job of assessing the mental well being of the child for the constitutional court.

A.M. Costa Rica reported Thursday that the Sala IV constitutional court has determined the presumed interests of the child, Emily, are superior to the country’s obligations under the international treaty covering child abductions. According to the treaty, the court of initial jurisdiction is supposed to decide the case.

Roy Koyama, the father who has waged a long battle to bring the child back to the United States said via email that he never was contacted for anything by court representatives. Koyama does have a lawyer here and visits here from Green County, Missouri, frequently.

Tim and Arlene Kennaley, in another email, identified themselves as the grandparents of Emily. “Your courts appear to be unreasonable and not care about the well being of children,” said the email. They live in Mariposa, California.

The Sala IV said in a summary of the decision that social work and psychology professionals had been involved in the case. They were not the only persons who failed to contact Koyama. The Defensoría de los Habitantes filed a habeas corpus action in December to prevent Emily from being returned to her father. A spokesman for the Defensoría said then that his agency had not contacted the Missouri judge in the case. That judge has issued a child kidnapping warrant for the child’s mother. Trina Atwell Chavarría.

The case is complex and full of hearings by various courts. The Sala IV overturned a decision by the Juzgado de Niñez y Adolescencia del Primer Circuito Judicial de San José, the regional family court, ordered May 7, 2010, that the girl be reunited with Koyama. The decision also went against the wishes of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, and the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

At one point Koyama purchased plane tickets for himself and Emily in anticipation that she would be allowed to fly to the United States with him. In his email he said that it appear that Costa Rica makes it appear as if it is a safe haven for kidnappers.

In fact there are at least five cases in which judges here took actions contrary to what the international treaty requires. Some of the cases have not been publicized because full details are not available and the parties are not interested in news stories.
At the very least, the treaty requires a judge here to contact the judge who has primary responsibility for the case. Usually that is a U.S. judge. But judges here have not been known to do that and generally decide the case on their own with incomplete information.

That can lead to embarrassment. After Chere Lyn Tomayko received refugee status to avoid extradition to the United States on a child abduction charge, a La Nación article quoted the U.S. judge as saying that much of what was said in Costa Rica was not part of the record in his courtroom. Janina Del Vecchio, the security minister, based her decision to award refugee status on claims of domestic and sexual abuse which the father involved denied repeatedly. But Ms. Del Vecchio never talked to the U.S. judge either.

The grandparents were firm in their email that the case of Emily was one to be decided in the United States. That is very clear under the Hague treaty on international child abductions, they said.

“It is a sad day for the American and Costa Rica citizens,” said the email. “We, as grandparents of Emily Koyama, have received information that the mother, Trina Atwell, has had the highest Costa Rican court reverse all of the lower court rulings of
the Hague Treaty for returning Emily to the United States. We have not seen Emily since she was just born. The mother will not even send us pictures of Emily. We are a very close family and Trina purposely excluded us from Emily’s life. Your courts appear to be unreasonable and not care about the well being of children. They are not conforming to the Hague Treaty.”

Koyama said that the action of Costa Rica’s constitutional court needs to be exposed to the world. “I am looking to expose the government system of Costa Rica to shine the light worldwide that Costa Rica needs punishment for the crime committed recently against all the children around the world that are kidnapped and counting on the Hague Treaty to give them a fair shot at getting justice and how Costa Rica is a very poor example of how things are done correctly.”

The case is not clear cut because Ms. Atwell said that she never was advised of a Green County Court hearing when Koyama was awarded custody. She also claims Koyama is abusive and a drug user. He denies these claims. The couple were engaged when Ms. Atwell lived in the United States, but she was married at the time to a Costa Rican. They were reunited when she came to Costa Rica in 2009.

After Ms. Tomayko received refugee status, the U.S. Embassy here came out with a strong statement. But it has not said anything in public about the Koyama case.

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