You would have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about the bungled “child recovery” operation involving the 60 Minutes crew in Lebanon.
The 60 Minutes team and Ms Faulkner had been in jail since they were accused of being involved in an operation to snatch Ms Faulkner's children in Lebanon over two weeks ago.
This raises issues about child abduction in a larger sense.
It is not uncommon for separated parents to flee to another country with their children.
A large number of countries have signed a convention to deal with child abduction cases such as this. In 1980 representatives from a number of countries attended the Hague Convention on private international law.
There they agreed on a process that each member country would adopt to help parents have their children returned from overseas to their home country in cases of child abduction. This agreement is called the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction and is commonly referred to as the “Hague Convention”. See our article by Family Law lawyer Eva Bailey, "Family Law team success using The Hague Convention".
If the parent in a convention country can show the authorities in that country that a child has been wrongfully removed (from a country which is their habitual place of residence to another convention country) or wrongfully retained (in another convention country), the authorities of that country will deal with the authorities in the other country, who will then take Court action for the children to be returned to the original country.
The parents are then required to go through the Courts of the original country to deal with the custody issues of the children.
In the case of Ms Faulkner and her children, Lebanon is not a signatory of the Hague Convention. That means even if the children were wrongfully removed from Australia or wrongfully retained in Lebanon and Australia was their habitual residence, the Hague Convention would not apply and there would be nothing under the convention the Australian Government could do for their return. It would be up to Ms Faulkner to use the laws in Lebanon to try and win her children back.
Interestingly, the other 60 Minutes “child recovery” operation highlighted in the last few days, took place in Turkey, which is a member country.
A list of the countries that are members can be found at The Hague Convention website.
It is important to consider whether or not a country is a member to the Hague Convention whenever allowing a parent to take children to another country.