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    Posted April 1, 2014 by
    Washington, District of Columbia

    Fate of 2 Maryland Children in Hands of Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa

    Washington, DC - The fate of 2 American babies rests in the hands of Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, scheduled to meet with President Obama during a visit to Washington April 2-4. Eslam and Zainab Chebbi (aged 7 and 5) are two Maryland children who have been captive in Tunisia since they were illegally abducted by their father in November 2011.

    On March 13, Tunisia’s highest court issued an unappealable ruling, to return Eslam and Zainab to their mother in the United States. Despite this third, and final legal “win” for the Chebbi’s, the Tunisian government has yet to signal their intent to enforce their law. Jomaa’s visit with the President follows a series of intense diplomatic and political efforts by the Americans to have the Tunisian law upheld, and Eslam and Zainab returned home.

    According to Press Secretary Carney, Jomaa is meeting with the President to discuss how the United States can support Tunisia's democracy, which has developed since the overthrow of its dictator three years ago as part of the "Arab Spring." The Tunisian leader himself has stressed that his country is determined to respect human rights and to enforce a rule of law.

    Édeanna Johnson-Chebbi, the children’s mother, and Executive Director of Return US Home, says, “We’ve been waiting 2 years for justice to prevail for our family. It is our deep hope that Prime Minister Jomaa’s visit with President Obama will finally yield a resolution to respect the law and our family’s right to come home.”

    International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA) victimizes nearly 2 American children every day. Unfortunately, many families affected by this crime must rely on political pressure in order to reunite. The plight of Eslam and Zainab began when their father, Faical Chebbi (currently one of the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted) absconded with the children in 2011, using illegally obtained passports. Their mother relocated to Tunisia in January 2012 in order to be close to her children, and to seek legal application of her U.S. custody rights there.

    According to Johnson-Chebbi, “Eslam and Zainab’s hope of living together, and returning home, lies in the hands of those devoted to establishing a rule of law and human rights in Tunisia. At this time, those hands belong to Prime Minister Jomaa.”

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