Mother fights to get two-year-old son back from Algeria

A woman is fighting to get her two-year-old son home to Britain after a judge in London ruled that the youngster’s father was keeping him in Algeria in breach of court orders.

Lawyers representing Samira Addou have appealed for help reuniting her with her son Yanis Bennabi, who was born in Feltham, west London, days before the start of the Covid lockdown in March 2020.

Solicitor Forum Shah, who is based at Dawson Cornwell solicitors, said Ms Addou has been separated from Yanis for the best part of a year and has urged anyone with information which could help to contact her firm.

Ms Addou, an Algerian who has permanent leave stay in Britain, has taken legal action against Yanis’s father, Siddali Bennabi, in London, in a bid to get her son back.

Lawyers representing Ms Addou have told judges that Yanis and his parents left England in November 2021 for a “holiday in Algeria”.

They said Mr Bennabi began divorce proceedings after they arrived and “retained” Ms Addou’s and Yanis’s travel documents.

Ms Addou had been able to return to London in February, with the help of the British embassy in Algeria, but “Algerian border police” had prevented Yanis from travelling, judges have heard.

Lawyers say Yanis was subsequently “forcibly removed” from the care of Ms Addou’s family by Mr Bennabi.

Hearings have been held in private in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

But a judge overseeing the latest stage of the litigation has now ruled that Yanis, who has been made a ward of court, can be named in media reports of the case in the hope that publicity will help reunite him with Ms Addou.

Mr Justice Francis has handed Mr Bennabi a suspended jail term after concluding that he had breached orders aimed at returning Yanis to Britain and was in contempt of court.

The judge imposed an 18-month-old jail term, suspended for two years, at a hearing on Friday.

He said his primary aim was to return Yanis, not to jail Mr Bennabi, who, he was told, had Algerian and British passports.

“Yanis has been in Algeria since November 30 2021, whereupon the mother and Yanis were stranded by the father,” barrister Mani Basi, who is leading Ms Addou’s legal team, told Mr Justice Francis in a written case outline on Friday.

“Yanis has been there without his mother, his primary carer, since February 1 2022, when the mother had to return to this jurisdiction without him to seek the court’s assistance.”

He added: “The father is now in Algeria and he has deprived Yanis (of) the ability to have a relationship with his mother.”

Mr Justice Francis said Ms Addou was in a “shocking and profoundly depressing” situation.