BENNY & LUCIA ARE AT GRAVE RISK OF SERIOUS HARM BY REMAINING IN COLOMBIA
EVIDENCE OF HARM BEING CAUSED TO BENNY AND LUCIA CLARKE
Court documents put before Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina on 24 May 2019 demonstrate the psychological harm being caused to Benny and Lucia as a result of their abduction and wrongful retention by their mother in Colombia.
Having a child returned to the parent left behind can be relatively straightforward when the other country is a signatory to the Hague Convention. However, when a country breaches the principles of the Hague convention as Colombia has done in this case, serious long-term harm is known to be caused to the victims of wrongful retention – the children.
Since Benny and Lucia were abducted and retained in Colombia by Maria (their mother) and her family, the harm already perpetrated on these precious two little Australians, Benny and Lucia, has been extensive.
BENNY AND LUCIA HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF:
- Access to their father who has parental responsibility and rights.
- Meaningful parenting by their father who has played a loving and attentive role in their lives.
- Their Australian culture and language.
- The comforts of their home and neighbourhood where they were born and raised.
- Significant loving relationships with grandparents, aunts and uncle etc., their beloved cousin Samantha and their little friends, their toys, Benny’s dog Nacho and their loving Australian family.
- Access to their Australian family through phone and video contact to eradicate their memories of home.
- Significantly, they have been deprived of their Australian way of life, their heritage, their birthright and all the opportunities Australia has to offer them.
ADDITIONAL HARM AND SUFFERING CAUSED BY MARIA, HER MOTHER AND HER FAMILY:
- They have instilled fear and deep insecurity in Benny by inappropriately telling him untruths about his father including that his father has abandoned him – he did not.
- They consistently have encouraged Benny to lie about his love for his father and his family in Australia and hide his distress at having to remain in Colombia without his father.
ONGOING HARM TO THE CHILDREN THAT WILL ESCALATE OVER TIME INCLUDES:
- Unresolved grief at the loss of their father and being told that their father abandoned them.
- Lucia will not learn to speak English – the language of her birth.
- Benny, who was bilingual, will continue to lose his English.
- Inappropriate moral guidance in a household where the maternal grandmother is a convicted criminal having stolen money from her community while holding a position of trust and authority; and, where the children’s mother and grandparents lie under oath encouraging dishonour and disrespect for authority in Benny and Lucia.
- Psychological harm will increase more and more with the passing of time, especially in adolescence.
SOCIAL WORKER REPORT – EDIT MARIELA CARDENAS ROSAS
In the psychological assessment report submitted to Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina on 24 May 2019, it states:
- Page 17: Under Conclusions and Recommendations, “Taking the foregoing into we recommend this for the figures of authority and affection: Encourage the parties to carry out the voluntary return of the children in order not to produce major trauma”
- Page 10: “We are told by the person in charge of the Goticas de Colores kindergarten that he (Benny) has been losing his identity as, initially, he would speak English and would show different cultural manifestations.” And, “At the beginning there were difficulties with the changes in the different environments, but because of the boy’s age there were no major difficulties”.
- It is evident that on his return to Australia, Benny will experience few difficulties in becoming happily settled in the environment in which he was born and raised and where he shares loving relationships with his father, his cousin Samantha (of the same age), his grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, and where he was to attended pre-school with a number of his little Australian friends.
THE DESTRUCTION OF BENNY AND LUCIA’S AUSTRALIAN IDENTITY, CULTURE & HERITAGE
While growing up in Australia, Robert and his family consistently encouraged the children’s family connection to the Colombian culture. However, while they continue to be illegally retained in Colombia, Maria and her family are actively discouraging the children’s connection to Australia, their family and their heritage.
In accordance with the principles of the Hague Convention, Benny and Lucia Clarke must be returned to Australia. While they remain in Colombia, the continuing harm caused to the children is extensive and includes their loss of identity as Australian citizens – the loss of their birthright.
- Benjamin (Benny) Clarke was born in April 2015. Lucia Clarke was born in September 2018. Both were born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
- Both Benny and Lucia are Australian citizens by birth and hold Australian passports.
- Robert encouraged the children’s Colombian heritage and Benny would communicate with his relatives in Colombia via skype or WhatsApp daily.
- Robert and his Australian family learned to speak Spanish to encourage the children’s Latino culture.
- Annually, the family would travel to Colombia for lengthy periods to nurture the children’s relationship with Maria’s family and their Colombian heritage.
- Australia has been the habitual residence of both children prior to being abducted and unlawfully retained in Colombia by their mother, Maria and her family.
Where the children are being illegally held in Ipiales, there is zero Australian culture. Apart from Benny and Lucia, Robert believes not another single Australian lives there. In Ipiales there is zero connection to the culture of their birth in Australia; while a life in Melbourne allows connection to their Colombian culture.
On their return to Australia, Benny and Lucia will have the opportunity to maintain their Australian culture while enjoying the culture of Colombia.
- Melbourne has routinely been rated as the World’s most liveable city providing the children with a beautiful, peaceful and safe community where they can freely play, grow and be educated.
- In Melbourne there are approximately 10,000 expat Colombians and many more thousands of Latinos from other South American countries. Melbourne features 4 Colombian restaurants, Colombian/Latino night clubs and a South American grocery store that stocks Colombian items. There are regular Colombian social events and Colombian entertainers have toured Melbourne.
STUDIES ON HARM TO CHILDREN ILLEGALLY ABDUCTED & RETAINED BY A PARENT
Of the studies conducted into the extent of psychological harm caused to children when abducted and illegally retained by a parent, the most comprehensive study into the long-term effects of international child abduction found more than 70 per cent of the children involved reported suffering significant effects on their mental health.
Overall, the studies and reports refer to child abduction by a parent as ‘child abuse’.
- DR MARILYN FREEMAN – PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION: THE LONG TERM EFFECTS – 2014
British researcher and family law specialist Dr Marilyn Freeman conducted the study which determined that children who had been abducted spoke repeatedly about their confusion, feelings of shame, self-hate, loneliness and insecurity.
The study found that a high proportion of the participants reported suffering very significant effects from their abductions in terms of their mental health, and that these effects were ongoing into their adult lives very many years after the abduction.
The study concluded more must be done to protect children from parental abduction and its effects.
Freeman, M. (2014) Parental Child Abduction: The Long Term Effects. International Centre for Family Law, Policy, and Practice.
- DR LENORE C TERR – CHILD SNATCHING: A NEW EPIDEMIC OF AN ANCIENT MALADY – 1983
In a small study conducted by Dr Lenore Terr, 16 out of 18 children kidnapped were found to have at least 1 of the following: 1) aftereffects of severe fright or psychic trauma; 2) effects of mental indoctrination; 3) grief or rage about parental abandonment; 4) rejection of the offending parent; and, 5) exaggerated identification with a parent or wish fulfilment about a parent.
There are serious problems at the law-psychiatry interface regarding stolen children.
Terr, L. (1983) Child Snatching: A new epidemic of an ancient malady. Journal of Paediatrics. 103(1). 151-156
- DR NANCY FAULKNER PhD – PARENTAL ABDUCTION IS CHILD ABUSE – 1999
In 1999, Nancy Faulkner presented to the UN Committee on the rights of the child. Children who have been psychologically violated and maltreated through the act of abduction, are more likely to exhibit a variety of psychological and social handicaps making them vulnerable to detrimental outside influences (Rand, 1997).
Nancy Faulkner PhD – Parental Abduction is Child Abuse
- Dr Dorothy S. Huntington PhD – PARENTAL KIDNAPPING: A NEW FORM OF CHILD ABUSE – 1982
Dr Dorothy Huntington (1982) lists some of the deleterious effects of parental child abduction on the child victim:
- Loss of community;
- Loss of stability, security, and trust;
- Excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences;
- Disruption in identity formation; and
- Fear of abandonment.
Huntington, DS (1984) Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse