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Kidnapping, is a cause of psychological trauma. The word is derived from kid = 'child' and nap(nab) = 'snatch', recorded since 1673, originally meant stealing children for use as servants or laborers in the American colonies
It has come to mean any illegal capture or detention of persons against their will, regardless of age, as for ransom; since 1768 the term abduction was also used in this sense. Another case is when two countries are at war: enemy soldiers may be captured in another country and detained as prisoners of war under the law of the capturer's state, and suspected war criminals and those suspected of genocide or crimes against humanity may be arrested.
- Although the victims are usually called hostages, this term also applies to legal hostage-taking, often practiced by public authorities.
Scope of application in the United States
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or asportation of a person against the person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority. This is often done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime. A majority of jurisdictions in the United States retain the "asportation" element for kidnapping, where the victim must be confined in a bounded area against their will abd moved. Any amount of movement will suffice for the requirement, even if it is moving the abductee to a house next door. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, however, the asportation element has been abolished. Note that under early English common law, the asportation element required that the victim be moved outside the realm of England or overseas in order for an abduction to be considered "kidnapping."
Kidnapping for ransom is almost nonexistent in the United States today, due in great part to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's aggressive stance toward kidnapping. The Bureau made kidnap for ransom a special priority, and continues to do so today. It pursues kidnap cases ferociously, as FBI agents who have rescued kidnap victims have been known to describe the rescue as a personal high point of a career. That deterrent, plus the extreme logistical challenges involved in exchanging the money for the victim, the harsh prison sentences imposed, with some U.S. states impose the death penalty for kidnapping, and the much better risk to benefit ratio of other crimes, has led kidnap for profit to virtually die out in the United States.
In the past, and presently in some parts of the world, such as southern Sudan) kidnapping was a common means used to obtain slaves. In more recent times, kidnapping in the form of shanghaiing men was used to supply American merchant ships in the 19th century with sailors, whom the law considered unfree labour. See also impressment.
Kidnapping can also take place in the case of deprogramming, a now rare practice to convince someone to give up his commitment to a new religious movement, called a cult or sect by critics, that the deprogrammer considers harmful.
It is also legal kidnapping for the police officers or agents of one state to capture fugitives in another state and bring them back for trial. International law requires the permission of a country's government for a fugitive to be sent to another country for trial, unless the fugitive voluntarily surrenders. Most countries also have laws requiring extradition proceedings, and often extradition treaties. For example, the capture of Mordechai Vanunu in Italy by Mossad agents was kidnapping under Italian law. Similiarly, the Mossad capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was kidnapping under Argentinian law.
Kidnapping versus abduction
In the terminology of the common law in many jurisdictions (according to Black's Law Dictionary), the crime of kidnapping is labelled abduction when the victim is a woman. In modern usage, kidnapping or abduction of a child is often called child stealing, particularly when done not to collect a ransom, but rather with the intention of keeping the child permanently (often in a case where the child's parents are divorced or legally separated, whereupon the parent who does not have legal custody will commit the act). The word "kidnapping" was originally "kid nabbing", in other words slang for "child stealing", but is no longer restricted to the case of a child victim.
Child abduction / child stealing can refer to children being taken away without their parents' consent, but with the child's consent. In England and Wales it is child abduction to take away a child under the age of 16 without parental consent.
Kidnapping in English law
This is a common law offense requiring:
- that one person takes and carries another away;
- by force or fraud;
- without the consent of the person taken; and
without lawful excuse. It would be difficult to kidnap without also committing false imprisonment which is the common law offense of intentionally or recklessly detaining the victim. The use of force to take and detain will also be an assault and sexual offences may be committed during the detention.
- Bride kidnapping is a term often applied more loosely, to include any bride physically 'abducted' against the will of her parents, even if she is willing to marry the 'abductor'. It still is traditional amongst certain nomadic peoples of Central Asia. It has seen a resurgence in Kyrgystan since the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent erosion of women's rights.
- Tiger kidnapping is taking an innocent hostage to make a beloved do something, e.g. a child is taken hostage to force the shopkeeper to open the safe; the term originates from the usually long preceding observation, like a tiger does on the prowl.
- Extraordinary rendition
- False imprisonment
- List of famous kidnappings
- National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children
- Insight News documentary: China's Kidnapped Wives
- Court TV's - Criminal Psychology of child abduction
Sources and references
- Etymology on line
- Kyrgyz bride kidnap (current)
- Sudanese slave trade (current): Slave by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis ISBN 1586482122
- Save the Children
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