Pain of Pakistani father as Czech Republic’s system lets him down

January 17, 2020

Otaiba Sheikh was beaten by his former Czech national wife, Jana and the gangsters she hired

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Otiba Sheikh and his former Czech wife

LONDON: The English lawyer of a British Pakistani father battling for the custody of his two minor daughters with his former wife in Czech Republic has said that she has no doubt that her client of Muslim faith and Pakistani origin was discriminated against by the Czech system.

Otaiba Iftikhar Sheikh has been beaten by his former Czech national wife Jana Sheikh and the hired gangsters in the Czech Republic's capital in the on-going battle for the custody of their two British-born daughters aged six and four.

Dr Lusine Navasardyan, who has acted as British Pakistani national’s UK lawyer, has stressed that the Czech authorities didn’t handle their obligations under the Hague Convention properly and as a result, have failed in their obligations to protect the best interest of children under their authority and in total disregard of a UK High Court order based on ratified International Law.

Dr Lusine said that the Hague Convention (officially known as Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) was put in place to deal with instances when one parent removes the child from the country of habitual residence of that child, without the other parent's consent. “The Convention allows the other parent to seek repatriation of the child. The return of the child however is not an automatic process. Article 13B of the Hague Convention states, that the member state (of the convention) that the child has been moved to, needs to make an order for the child's return. When an application for return is made, the parent who has removed the child can put forward a defence and ask for the child to not be returned. The child will not be returned to the country of residence if it is believed that the child will be put in an unbearable or harmful environment.”

She said that to ensure the children's safety, the orders made under this Convention are enforceable in the other member state where the child is being returned to. “This is an important and integral part of the system and if the member states ignore orders made in another member state, then they can be considered non-conforming countries and in future any applications from them to return children to them will be dealt accordingly. This is why it is important that the actions of the Czech authorities in this case are carefully analysed and the UK courts are aware of any breach they have caused, as that is the only way to ensure that the UK is not returning children to a country where their safety is not properly assured.”

Otaiba Sheikh married Jana Sheikh, a Czech national, in Prague in 2011 when the couple fell in love. According to Sheikh’s lawyer in Czech the couple separated when Otaiba discovered in 2017 that his wife was cheating on him and working as an escort in his absence.

Otaiba filed for divorce and was given 50 percent custody of the children in December 2018 after Jana abandoned the girls and then offered him full custody.

The Czech Court, presided by Judge Dita Krizova, refused to agree and threatened to put the girls in care rather than giving them to Otaiba. The court was told that the reason the children were repeatedly abandoned and not taken to school, when in the mother’s care, was because Jana had prioritised providing adult services in Norway. Yet, the judge Dita Krizova chose to ignore this fact.

It was established before the authorities that Jana had an ongoing drinking problem and had failed to provide a safe living environment to the two minors at the family home where strange and unrelated men visited. It was also established that Jana started working for an escort agency in Prague, including travelling to Norway to provide similar services where she was once arrested for shoplifting and detained overnight by the local police.

Court papers show that Otaiba’s lawyers expressed fears that the young girls may also have been sexually abused but the Czech social services didn't do anything to look into the father's concerns. In September 2019, Otaiba Sheikh brought his girls to the UK to seek help in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his daughters when Social Services and Dita Krizova willfully decided not to investigate what was happening and ignored the evidence.

He didn't inform his ex-wife about this decision and there was no agreement for the removal of the girls from Prague to London.

The wife approached the London High Court’s family division with the allegation that minors had been abducted. The court ordered the father to return to Prague with the minors with the express desire they stay with Otaiba and the courts in the Czech Republic start following due process for a change but then Jana Sheikh breached the court order of “soft landing” of Mr Sheikh who was arrested at the Prague airport and locked up. It has been confirmed that the children were snatched screaming by untrained officers at the airport. They did not even follow their own rules of having some form of child protection agency involved.

Otaiba’s Czech lawyer Hedvika Hartmanova said that the Czech authorities have given preference to the freedom and activities of a Czech mother while completely ignoring the safety and well-being of half Czech children.

Dr Lusine said that the situation Otaiba finds himself in not unique.

She added: “Even in this day and age, fathers are quite often discriminated against in children matters. While the UK has somewhat improved on that, Czech Republic seems to be much behind on that respect. While I cannot comment on the handling of the matter by the Czech courts, as I do not know the law there, my impression is that there was a clear bias against the father. It also seems to have been exacerbated by the fact that the father is of Pakistani and Muslim background.”

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