Prime Minister Helen Clark has stepped
into a custody battle over a New Zealand child taken to Turkey by
his mother 18 months ago.

Four months after he was born in Auckland, Dylan Laybourn was
taken to Turkey in May last year by his Turkish mother Gulsen for a

After she refused to return him, Dylan’s father Bruce visited
Turkey twice and pursued government and legal avenues to try to get
him back.

Under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, any custody
dispute should be heard in the child’s country of origin, in this
case New Zealand, Laybourn said on 3 News tonight.

However, Turkey did not recognise New Zealand’s membership of the
Hague Convention in 2007 due to an oversight.

Laybourn was told that then-Foreign Affairs Minister Winston
Peters would not raise the issue when he was in Turkey earlier this
year, and the legal case to retrieve Dylan had closed in Turkey
because of the technicality over the Hague Convention.

“Diplomacy has done all it can, officials have done all they
can, the legal obligations do not require Turkey to return the child
unfortunately,” Clark told 3 News.

“That’s why I have said I will personally take it up with the
Turkish Prime Minister,” she said.

Laybourn was delighted about Miss Clark’s support.

“I know we’re not home, but this is all I’ve been asking for for
over a year, for 18 months.”