Kidnapping is a criminal act which involves forcibly taking a person captive, transporting him to a predetermined location and holding him captive against his will. In all countries of the world, kidnapping is a punishable offense under the law. The act of kidnapping a person infringes on his personal liberty. There are four recognisable elements involved in kidnapping: firstly, one person takes away another person; secondly, the act is done by force or fraud; thirdly, the victims consent was not obtained, and lastly, the act is carried out without lawful excuse. Depending on the severity attributed to particular cases of kidnap they may be punished by imprisonment or by the payment of a fine. Some other kinds of offense may be incident with an act of kidnapping. Such acts include assault in the case of a forceful kidnapping.
Several factors could motivate a person or a group of people to kidnap another person. These factors range from monetary incentives to disputes over custody of an individual, especially children. People could kidnap someone for a ransom, as an avenue for some other crime to be actualized or in child custody disputes.
At this point, it is important to distinguish between kidnapping and abduction. Abduction and kidnapping are similar terms but are distinct in terms of their legal definitions. While both involve forcibly taking a person away against his will, abduction is more specifically used in particular cases where a person is taken away from his family by deceit, fraud or force. Kidnapping is the more general term and involves the unlawful taking away of a person against his will by force, threat or deceit in order to detain him.
In cases of child abduction, what is important is the presence or absence of the child’s consent. This is irrespective of the child’s age. In determining whether a child’s consent was obtained or not, the child’s age is of paramount relevance. Generally, children aged fourteen or below are not deemed to have developed sufficient understanding or intelligence to be able to comprehend the necessary facts that will enable him to form the judgement required to give a meaningful consent. If a child deemed old enough or of sufficient understanding to give his consent or does so, then the consent of the other parent becomes immaterial. However, if on the other hand the child did not give his consent then the other parent who has legal custody of the child will be advantaged to plead a defence of lawful excuse.
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