Money won again, this time against 4 young Australian citizen girls who were forced to return to Italy under the guise of the Hague Convention. The father’s family that apparently are fairly well off in Italy have taken possession of the girls who are also Australian citizens.
Two of these girls have already tried to escape their dad and have been warned they may have to be taken into foster care if they did not calm down.
Yesterday, the girls’ aunt told local media it would take some time to put the family back together.
“The children were tense and tired after the long trip and disoriented,” she said. “And now we have to make patient work to re-sew together the painful mess that we never wanted that was created.”
The girls mother has repeatedly said she cannot return to Italy because she fears she will be arrested for kidnapping. The paper quoted “the family” as saying they did not want to take the matter further. “Even though she did everything to take them away, it is best for the children (that they) have a mother,” a family member was quoted as saying.
The article commented that the Australian public had been swayed into sympathising with the mother after media showed images of the distressed children kicking and screaming as they were dragged through the airport.
“She decided to leave everything behind, her marriage, her husband, Florence, Italy and take the children like a souvenir on vacation,” the article said. It said local authorities would not “ask for her arrest” should the mother return to see her children. But a city official told The Courier Mail “it could be or it could not be” when questioned about the chances of prosecution.
The court found the father had not agreed to the move. But Mr Somlyay claimed, “it was only after the kids came out here that he had a change of heart”. Mr Somlyay said the process was “not fair” for the mother. The mother was three times denied Legal Aid and forced to defend herself initially in the court. The father, by invoking Hague anti-abduction rules, had the weight of Commonwealth-paid lawyers. “It’s not fair when one party in the litigation gets help and the other party doesn’t,” he said.
Errors in the mother’s handling of the case led to a critical declaration of an Italian witness not being presented in proper form for the court. It claimed the father, at the time he signed the children’s passports, was looking for work in Australia and intended to move here with the mother and children.
It also was bizarre that one set of Commonwealth bureaucrats was working to “rescue” the mother from an alleged abusive relationship in 2010, while other federal bureaucrats were working to send her and the children back to Italian courts.
“After 23 years in Parliament nothing surprises me,” Mr Somlyay said.
Neighbours were hesitant to talk about the family, with one saying many relatives lived inside the large estate. At least two of the girls were moved to another location during the day.
The father’s lawyer said the girls may have to be taken into foster care if they did not calm down.
Meanwhile, their Australian mother is trying to raise $10,000 for an Italian lawyer to pursue a case awarding her sole custody. The mother says she is terrified of returning to Italy in case she is arrested on kidnapping charges and has repeatedly claimed she left because her relationship with the children’s father was abusive – an allegation the man has strenuously denied.
It is always the case children take the side of one parent or the other in these circumstances, however, now he has them in Italy they are told to shut up and obey or go into foster care, rather than allowing them to return to their mother as a caring parent who was seriously wanting to have a happy relationship with his children would do.
He now is concerned with the Aussie media around as he can’t punish them without the media interest.
However, these are not just Italian citizens, they are Australian citizens, dragged away from their mother in Australia by invoking the Hague convention which is something like a 30 year old agreement now. Does this recognise these incidents, and should we be allowing this to occur.
My answer to that is NO ! Our Embassy even assisted them in coming to Australia, and yet
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907
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 that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member nation to another. Proceedings on the Convention concluded 25 October 1980 and the Convention entered into force between the signatory nations 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 eldest daughter is 15 born June 1997
The next daughter is 14 born August 1998
The third daughter is 11 born December 2001
And the youngest is 9 born May 2003
The eldest girl who is distraught at being with her father and is being forced to remain there, including being threatened with Foster Care if she keeps playing up is 16 in 8 months and will not be subject to the Hague Convention at that time. The next oldest will be 16 in 14 months and has been subject to the same threat.
These are the two girls that are struggling with the forced separation from their mother and have made it plain they do not wish to remain with their dad in Italy.
Application of the Hague Convention
2.7 The Hague Convention does not automatically apply between all contracting
states. Where a new contracting state accedes to the Convention, Article 38 imposes
the following requirement:
The accession will have effect only as regards the relations between the
acceding State and such Contracting States as will have declared their
acceptance of the accession.
2.8 Consequently, the Australian Government must declare its acceptance of another country’s accession before the Convention is effective as between the acceding country and Australia. The Convention leaves the acceptance of accessions to the discretion of individual contracting states.
Every case that is brought pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction requires a determination of the habitual residence of the child in question. The concept of habitual residence is key to the operation of all aspects of the Convention — and yet it is not a term that is defined in the Convention itself.
Habitual Residence can be defined as ’A place of settled dwelling which constitutes a person’s ordinary residence’.
Which appears to be Australia after being here for 2 years.
The evidence presented to the Court appears to establish that after the death of their third child, Mr V experienced some mental health problems, becoming depressed. That contributed to deterioration in the couple’s relationship that ultimately led to a separation in or around January 2007. At that time, a serious incident of domestic violence perpetrated by Mr V against Ms Garning precipitated the separation. Ms Garning left the family villa and took up residence in an apartment in the village. The four girls went with her, no doubt a reflection of the principal care that she had provided them with to that point in time.
Soon thereafter, Ms Garning decided that she would prefer to return with the girls, to live in Australia. She was, thereafter, in regular contact with Australian Consular staff based in the Australian Embassy in Rome seeking their assistance to obtain Australian citizenship for the four girls, passports for the four girls and, ultimately, travel to Australia for permanent relocation.
In 2010 Ms Garning was able to secure Mr V’s consent to the issue of passports for the four girls and on the 23rd of June 2010 Ms Garning and her daughters travelled from Rome Airport to Brisbane. They have been in Australia ever since. Their father, however, remains in Italy and through the use of the provisions of the Hague Convention sought their return.
The father’s evidence is that the mother told him on the telephone one day in early 2009 that she wanted to go back to Australia, taking the four girls with her, with the intention of allowing the father to see his daughters for a month each year. He says that he told her that if she wanted to leave and return to Australia she was free to do that but that his daughters would have to remain in Italy with her being free to visit them whenever she wanted. His evidence is that the mother persisted with her request for some time but assured him thereafter that she would never ask him again. The father says that some time thereafter, around the end of 2009, the mother again began to talk about returning to Australia to live. His evidence is that she even began to ask him to go there and live there with her. He denies that he expressed any interest in doing so or intention to do so. His evidence is that the mother then proposed to him that they both travel with the girls to Australia in June 2010 for a visit. The father’s evidence is that he told her that he believed that once she was in Australia with the girls she would not return them to Italy and so he refused to sign documents permitting that to happen. He says that the mother assured him that she had absolutely no intention of remaining in Australia, that she knew that the lives of the girls were based in Italy and that she only wanted to take them for a holiday to Australia for about four weeks. The father says that he continued to refuse to give such permission and then the mother arranged for him to meet with her lawyer to discuss the subject. The father’s evidence is that they met with the lawyer and that on this occasion the mother made it clear that she intended to only spend one month in Australia with the girls. The father contends that it was asserted to him that the Court would give the mother permission to take the children to Australia for a holiday and that, therefore, he should consent. He says, consequently, he relented and agreed to sign the passport applications for the four girls. He says that a few days later he met up with the mother in a café in their village in the presence of “a very dear friend” of the mother’s who witnessed his signature on the four passport applications. He said he did all this on the expectation that the children would be returned to him after the month in Australia to spend the Summer holiday month of August with him before school resumed again in Italy in September.
The father’s evidence goes on further to say that he asked his employer for leave so that he could travel with the mother and girls to Australia for the holiday but that he was unable to obtain that leave and so was unable to make the trip. The father says that he was aware that the mother had bought return tickets for herself and the four girls, that they would be leaving Italy for Australia on the 23rd of June 2010 and leaving Australia to return to Italy on the 20th of July 2010.
The father’s evidence is that in the first week or so of the girls’ visit to Australia he was able to communicate with them readily by telephone but that after a short while his ability to communicate with them as such became impeded. He said that their phones were turned off, the mother’s mobile phone was out of reach and that the mother never called him. He says that when he did call to speak to the children that he was told they were not available to speak to him because they were either sleeping or out playing. His evidence is that on or about the 18th of July he received a call from the mother who told him to prepare himself for bad news and that she and the girls were not going to be returning to Italy. He says that he told the mother in that call that she could do what she liked but that the girls must be home in Italy come the 20th of July. After the 20th of July he says that he confirmed that the return ticket reservations with the airlines had been cancelled and that the children were not returned to Italy. His evidence is that he then began the process that has culminated in the application before the Court.
Already it seems the two oldest girls tried to get away again and the girls eventually agreed to return to the house but it is understood the older sisters were moved to their uncle’s home.
”The father and the family understand that it will require patience to re-establish the harmony the girls once experienced in Italy, and reverse the painful stresses they have endured in the last two years,” the post said.
The girls’ maternal grandmother said yesterday she had contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade while her granddaughter was at the gates, but was told consular officials could not intervene in court proceedings or private legal matters.
These girls are captives of their dad’s family. A family that thinks they have the right to do as they please to these girls, already they have moved the girls away from the dad who was so desperate to have his daughters ripped from their happy lives in Australia and forced to live withy a father they do not want anything to do with/
These aren’t the actions of a loving father scared of losing his children. These are the actions of an intelligent and devious man, out to prove he has control over the children and the mother can’t come near them. We are told he won’t pursue legal action against her, but if his ex wife enters Italy in pursuit of her children, he will lay charges meaning her chances of gaining custody in Italy would be next to nil.
Then our government helped this family to get to Australia, and then threw them out of Australia because of a Convention that was ratified by Australia on 29th April 2003. It would be far better to determine this matter based on the evidence supplied to the court in Australia over what is in the girls best interest and what the girls themselves wanted. Instead these girls, Australian citizens who were happily enjoying the freedom of their lives in Australia, had this freedom stripped from them based on this convention and now they are forced to live in Italy with a father they do not want and who has already farmed them out to his brother due to his lack of true interest in their rights.