Australian Father Launches International Campaign To Bring His Abducted Children Home.
TODAY, Australian father of two, Robert Clarke launched an international appeal for help from authorities and the public in a desperate bid to rescue his two small children, Benjamin (4) and Lucia (16 months) Clarke who were abducted and found by a Colombian Judge to have been illegally retained in Colombia by their Colombian mother and her family.
Mr Clarke immediately applied for his children’s return to Australia under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Australian Family Law (Child Abduction Convention) Regulations 1986.
Australia and Colombia are both Contracting States to The Hague Convention to protect children from harm caused by cross-border abductions (and wrongful retentions) with procedures designed to bring about the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence.
Under The Hague Convention Benny and Lucia should have been immediately returned to Australia. However, the Colombian authorities (including the Colombian Central Authority) and Colombian Judge delayed proceedings.
More than nine months following the children’s abduction and unlawful retention on 20-February-2019, and more than eight-months after Mr Clarke filed for their immediate return, on 5-December-2019 Colombian Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina ruled the Clarke children had been illegally retained by their mother (according to The Hague Convention) but failed to order their immediate return to the country of their birth and habitual residence; asserting the children were now settled and should stay in Colombia claiming it would be harmful to the children if they returned to Australia.
In the first Hague Convention case of Australian children being abducted and unlawfully retained in Colombia; the Colombian Government has failed to honour their responsibilities under The Hague Convention causing harm to young Benny and little Lucia and placing their personal safety at risk.
In February 2020, Robert Clarke and his Australian family have just one opportunity to appeal the Judge’s decision.
“I hope people will add their voices to my pleas to the President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez and sign the petition calling for Colombia to honour The Hague Convention principles to bring my children home.” Mr Clarke said.