THE HAGUE CONVENTION
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.
The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.
THE PENALTY FOR COLOMBIA’S FAILURE TO ADHERE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF THE HAGUE CONVENTION
Australia and Colombia are both Contracting States to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Given the serious nature of Colombia’s non-compliance to the principles of the Hague Convention in the case of Benjamin and Lucia Clarke; should the Colombian Government fail to rectify their non-compliance and act promptly to correct this breach by ordering the immediate return of the children to their home State of Australia, there will be calls for their removal as a Contracting State to the Hague Convention.
COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT FAILS TO MEET OBLIGATIONS OF THE HAGUE CONVENTION
- The Hague Convention exists for the purpose of protecting children from the harmful effects of cross-border abductions (and wrongful retentions) by providing a procedure designed to bring about the prompt return of such children to the State of their habitual residence.
- Benny and Lucia Clarke are the first Hague Convention case of Australian children being abducted and wrongfully retained in Colombia.
- With many Colombian citizens living in Australia, this case will set a precedent for others that may follow so it is vital that the Colombian Government fulfil their obligations under the Hague Convention.
- Robert Clarke, his family with the support of the Australian Central Authority have consistently and rigorously undertaken every legal avenue possible to have his Australian born children returned to the country of their birth under the Hague Convention. However, contrary to the principles of the Hague Convention “to expedite the process”, the Colombian Government has failed to meet its obligations as an Admitted State to the Hague Agreement.
- The Colombian Central Authority (ICBF) and the Colombian Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina deliberately delayed proceedings showing a complete lack of vigilance and failure in the execution of the six-week limit as determined by the Hague Convention to order the return of the children to the country of their birth. This delay obstructed compliance with the Hague Convention; the effects and consequences of which are both human and international in nature and in direct contravention of the principles of the Hague Convention.