In one of the most high profile international child abduction cases in a while, an Australian mother, who seems to have convinced an entire news program that the father of her children had taken and kept the children illegally, or, at least, improperly, has been charged with kidnapping, along with the crew of the Australian 60 Minutes news show.
The case centers around Sally Faulkner and Ali al-Amin (sometimes called Ali Elamine in news stories), and their two children, daughter Lahela, age 6, and son Noah, age 4.
In May of 2015, Faulkner and and al-Amin agreed that he would take the children to his native Lebanon for a holiday. As best as DadsRights.org has been able to ascertain, there was no custody or parenting time order in place. So, when al-Amin decided to keep the children with him in Lebanon, rather than returning them, he was not violating any court order, as there was none. Various news reports cite him saying that he had grave concerns about Faulkner’s new live-in partner. Whether that is a real issue or not, what is clear is that, generally speaking, when there is no order dealing with custody or parenting time, than both parents each have equal custody rights.
In other words, absent an order to the contrary, al-Amin did nothing legally wrong by keeping the children with him, he had as much right to keep the children with him as did Faulkner (we do not get into the moral or ethical issues here, only the legal).
Faulkner, however, somehow either convinced 60 Minutes to help her stage a kidnapping to recover her children, or she was convinced by someone at 60 Minutes to do it.
Regardless of which way it unfolded, let’s be clear: a mother and an international news team facilitated a kidnapping of children from their father. They engaged Adam Whittington, founder of what he calls Child Abduction Recovery International, to mastermind the kidnapping. In fact, according to the Guardian, it was Nine News (producers of 60 Minutes Australia) who introduced Faulkner to Whittington.
Then Whittington and Faulkner traveled to Lebanon, along with the 60 Minutes crew, and staged the abduction, grabbing the children away from their grandmother (and, according to some accounts, clubbing her on the head).
This purports to be a video of the abduction of the al-Amin/Faulkner children as captured by security cameras.
Once she had the children, Faulkner called al-Amin from a safe house in Lebanon; police traced the call, recovered the children, and put Faulkner and the 60 Minutes crew in jail, charging them with kidnapping.
Said Faulkner’s lawyer in Lebanon, “Legally he is the one with custody, adding that “He is willing for her to see the children at any time. But he is not willing to allow her to take the children to Australia or elsewhere on holidays. These are Australian holiday difficulties. If she takes the children to Australia who will say she will keep them and not bring them back to Lebanon?”
Her lawyer also indicated that he had been telling Faulkner to go the legal route, pursuing custody through the courts (presumably this is how she already had a lawyer in Lebanon), and had no idea she was planning an abduction instead.
For us, here is what this case highlights: the extreme societal bias in favor of mothers, so extreme that even without any court orders to demonstrate that she had a right to custody of the children, an otherwise respected news program would go to such lengths to help a mother kidnap her children from their father.
In the meantime, the producer at 60 Minutes responsible for this debacle has been fired by 60 Minutes founder Gerald Stone, who called the incident “the gravest misadventure in the program’s history.”