“Everyone keeps on saying I got compensated, and I’m really hoping I get something.”
That’s what the father at the centre of the 60 Minutes child “rescue” SNAFU said to Kyle and Jackie O this morning.
He really wants something out of this whole drama.
But here’s the thing: Ali el-Amine already has something out of this ordeal. He’s actually got everything that he wanted.
He has his kids.
He has taken his children to a country where women struggle to get custody of their children. That same country has not signed the Hague Convention that provides a mechanism for abducted children to be returned to their “country of habitual residence” (which in this case, would also be their birth country, Australia).
El-Amine runs a successful surfing school in Lebanon. His family is reportedly well-connected in the Hezbollah-controlled Beirut suburb of Hadath (his mother is reported to be the cousin of the speaker of the Lebanon Parliament). His family is also reportedly very wealthy. Money, he does not need. But his children? That’s what he wanted.
What does Sally Faulkner have?
She doesn’t have access to her children. For the last two weeks, she didn’t even have her freedom.
All she has is an Australian Family Court order granting her full custody of her children. And, her lawyer says, she has a document signed by Ali el-Amine that says he will consult with her on deciding where their children will live.
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There is a lot that is contested between the pair, as there is in every relationship breakdown.
But the upshot is this: Sally Faulkner had custody of her children in Australia. Almost a full year ago, Ali el-Amine hosted the children on holiday in his home country of Lebanon. Those children were not returned to Australia.
Sally Faulkner says she petitioned the Australian Government to get her children back. She says she tried to contact Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office and got no response.
She turned to the media – and we all know what happened next.
This morning, Ali el-Amine told Kyle and Jackie O’s radio show that he decided to keep the children because he didn’t like Faulkner’s parenting decisions and the fact she had re-partnered: “[My daughter] Lahela kept on telling me “Mummy’s friend” would sleep in the same bed as us… and stuff like that. I just wasn’t okay with all of that.”
But here’s the thing: Even if you disagree with your ex-partner about how to raise your kids, you don’t get to steal them.
You don't get to arrange an access visit and keep them.
You do not get to use the misogynistic laws of another country to get around the fact that you're not entitled to permanent custody of your children.
You do not get to keep your ex-partner in prison in order to get the child custody you want.
You do not own your kids.
Here is what Sally Faulkner had to say upon her release from prison (post continues after video):
In the end, this whole ordeal isn't about 60 Minutes. It's not about a child "rescue" agency, that may or may not operate outside the law.
This isn't even about Sally Faulkner, her parenting or her decision to get involved with a plan to kidnap her own children.
It is about one man. One man who took what he believed was his. The man who now has everything he wants.