Help Bring My Children Home To Australia

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Australian father of two, Robert Clarke needs your help to bring his two little Australian born children, Benny and Lucia home to Australia where they will be safe from harm.

In a desperate bid to plead with President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, Robert is hoping you will sign his petition asking the President to honour Colombia’s commitment under the international Hague Convention whereby his two precious children currently illegally retained in Colombia by their Colombian mother Maria Nelly Yepez Oviedo, are returned safely to the place of their birth and habitual residence, Australia.

Once returned to safety in Australia, the Australian courts will determine shared custody and access to ensure Benny and Lucia have the love and guidance of both parents throughout their childhood.

Grave fears are held for Benjamin (Benny) Clarke (4) and toddler, Lucia (now 16 months). Both are Australian born citizens. Both were abducted and are being illegally retained by their mother and her family in Ipiales on the border of Colombia and Ecuador where corruption, violence and criminal activity are rife and travel warnings have been issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Protecting the children from harm is the priority. Both are living in the home of Mrs. Oviedo Heurtas (the maternal grandmother) who is a convicted criminal serving four (4) years home detention for crimes committed in Colombia and who shows little respect for the law and authority in a community where crime, violence and corruption are accepted as a part of everyday life. Both children often visit the home of their maternal grandfather whose house has been bombed by a former business partner destroying the main entrance to the house. The risks to the children’s safety are great!

The longer Benny and Lucia remain in Colombia, the more they are being emotionally and mentally harmed as a result of their illegal retention, while the risks to their safety increases daily in a country ranked 5th in the world for violent deaths by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Robert Clarke, who hasn’t seen his children since February 2019 when he was forced to leave Colombia under threat to his personal safety, holds desperate fears for the well-being and safety of his precious children, Benny and Lucia and has been fighting under The Hague Convention to bring his children home. 

In what should have been a straight-forward legal process under The Hague Convention to return Benny and Lucia to Australia, the Colombian authorities (including the Colombian Central Authority) and Colombian Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina knowingly delayed proceedings in what appears to be an attempt to justify the illegal abduction and retention of Benny and Lucia by their mother in Colombia.

The lawyer for Mr Clarke said this deliberate delay of proceedings showed a complete lack of vigilance and failure in the execution of the six-week limit to order the return of the children to the country of their birth which is in direct contravention of the fundamental principles of The Hague Convention. 

On 29 November 2019, 9 months and 9 days (282 days) after the children’s unlawful abduction on 20 February 2019, Colombian Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina ruled that the Clarke Children were 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 that “the children are now settled and should stay in Colombia as it would be harmful to the children for them to return them to Australia”.

The children’s retention is wrongful and the Colombian Government has an international obligation to preserve the safety and well-being of these two little Australians and expedite their immediate return to the country of their birth and habitual residence, Australia.

In February, Robert has just one opportunity to appeal this decision and is calling on the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, asking him to honour Colombia’s commitment to The Hague Convention and “Help bring these two precious little Australians home!”

PLEASE SIGN & SHARE THE PETITION and add your voice to Robert’s pleas to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez and help bring Benny and Lucia home to Australia where they are safe from harm.

For more information please visit our website, like and share the petition among all your personal and professional networks via social media, email, SMS or WhatsApp.

Watch Robert and his family appeal to the President.

 

KEY DETAILS

  • Robert Clarke is the father of two Australian born children, Benny (4 years) and Lucia (16 months) Clarke.
  • Their Colombian mother Maria Yepez Oviedo, has lived in Australia since 2013 and is a permanent resident.
  • On 18 March 2015, Robert and Maria formally registered their relationship with plans to marry.
  • Both children were born in Melbourne, Australia: Benny April 3rd 2015 and Lucia September 18th 2018.
  • Benny and Lucia are both Australian citizens and hold Australian passports.
  • Both children had resided in Australia from birth prior to being abducted and unlawfully retained in Colombia.
  • On 20 February 2019, while on a family holiday, Benny and Lucia were illegally retained in Colombia by Maria and her family. Robert has not seen his children since.
  • On 12 March 2019, Robert commenced legal proceedings under The Hague Convention to have his children returned to the country of their birth.
  • On 20 December 2019, the Colombian judge ruled the Clarke Children had been illegally retained in Colombia but failed to rule that they be returned home to Australia.
  • This ruling by Judge Hernan Rodriguez Reina in Ipiales Colombia, is in breach of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
  • In February 2020, Robert Clarke and his Australian family have just one opportunity to appeal this decision.

 

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