Mothers fleeing violence trapped by Hague Convention

 

A core item of concern for the Christian Democratic Party (CDP)is the welfare of Australia’s vulnerable, it goes to the very heart of our Party and our Christian faith.

British Publisher Henry Bohn wrote  that ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ in his  ‘A hand book of proverbs’.  Such is the case with the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention was a well-intentioned international treaty that was created to protect children, by providing signatory nations the means by which to prevent and resolve child abduction, wrongful removal and wrongful retention.

Sadly, 90% of the time, the Hague Convention is being misused by vindictive family members, often to the detriment of the children and mothers involved.  Mothers and children returning home to Australia have often been the subject of physical violence, sexual assault and involuntary detention. They return home in search of safety, family and social support for themselves and their children. They need to heal from their traumas in a safe space surrounded by loved ones. To be forced to return to their abusers, under Hague Convention,  is not just cruel, but for many it is a death sentence. There is after all a reason why protective mothers flee the foreign country of their former partners. In 2009, Cassandra Hananovic, a Sydney mother was returned to the United Kingdom under the Hague Convention and was subsequently stabbed to death in front of her children by her former partner Hajrudin Hasanovic.

Every year, over 170 Australian women and their children are ordered by Australian courts to return to foreign countries, where there is a known perpetrator. Usually these women are met by the abuser at the airport where the children are taken. Many women are abused, intentionally injured or killed within weeks of their return. Australia’s laws must be amended to protect vulnerable mothers and children.  The courts cannot continue to place women’s lives and children’s safety in jeopardy.

At a time when Australians are being told not to leave the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian judges are deporting vulnerable Australian children and their Australian mothers into the abusive environments they fled, where they have little or no support networks.

This is a real issue and one that has attracted attention and support from the CDP and others, including Deputy Leader of the Nationals Hon Barnaby Joyce, Hon Julian Leeser and the tireless advocacy of Julie Collins of the Shiloh Life Centre Ark of Hope and Silvana Nile who organised Parliamentary and prayer meetings as a platform to voice these concerns in order for strategies to be actioned for the safety of mothers and children.

Julian Leeser is supportive of legislative changes that will ensure the safety of Australian mothers and their children, fighting the Hague Convention.  Julian is concerned about the domestic violence and abuse that Hague Convention mothers and children are expose to, and refers to the recommendations made in the 1994 Law Reform Commission.

Below is a quote from Salter (Professor of Law) (2014), outlining the recommendations:

“… the Australian Law Reform Commission has evinced concern about the impact of the Hague Convention in such cases and recommended legislative changes to ensure that child abuse and domestic violence is given adequate weight during Hague Convention proceedings, However, these recommendations have not been implemented.” 

Rev Fred Nile, Barnaby Joyce, Julian Leeser all agree that Australia should not be paying the legal fees of foreign parents who are shown to be abusive. Sadly this is the case in over 70% of cases.

A First Nations mother and her child are right now being impacted by the Hague Convention with their hearing set in July. Under the current legal system there is a very real danger that the mother and child will be deported to an abusive domestic situation in a Covid-19 riddled Europe.

Under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a child is considered “abducted” if they are removed by one parent without the other parent’s consent. Studies completed in 2018 show that most parents fighting return orders imposed by the Hague Convention are mothers fleeing domestic violence and abuse. This is referred to as a ‘protective abduction’ by the courts, yet still the majority of Australian mothers and children are deported by Australian judges.

Article 3 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:

  1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare instructions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration

As these protective mothers are acting in accordance with Article 3, we ask you to make yourself aware of the failings of the Hague Convention for the sake of Australian mothers and children affected by this misused convention.

International Law should not be forcing Australian mothers and their children into the country of their abuser. Australian politicians have the power to protect them.

The Leader of the CDP, Rev Hon Fred Nile requests that you please sign the petition to call on Australian politicians to urgently pass a law that overrules The Hague Convention and allows Australian mothers and their children to stay in the safety of Australia if abuse is shown, and recognises that it would be intolerable and unreasonably dangerous to send children and their mothers into lockdown during the pandemic.

 

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