WA attacks United Nations decision over Poland custody case

February 8, 2016

Source: Perth Now

A LANDMARK United Nations decision has found WA authorities violated the human rights of a father and son who were torn apart by an international custody and child abduction dispute.


But the UN Human Rights Committee’s ruling has dismayed one of WA’s top judges, who claims his court was not given the opportunity to provide information to the committee.

The UN upheld the complaint from a Polish-Australian father after his estranged wife took their son, then aged five, from Poland to WA in 2010 without his knowledge or consent. A Polish court had awarded the father sole custody.

The case is the first Australian family law matter to come before the UN committee, which ruled Australian authorities were guilty of an “arbitrary interference” in the father and son’s family life.

In a rare public statement on an individual case, Family Court of WA Chief Judge Stephen Thackray hit out at the UN, saying it relied on “misleading information”.

“If we had been asked, we would have been very pleased to assist the UN committee by ensuring that it had accurate information. Unfortunately, the information provided to the committee was quite misleading,” Judge Thackray said.

“It is particularly unfortunate that the committee did not appreciate that the complainant (father) had refused every opportunity offered to him to participate in the proceedings in the Family Court of WA.”

Whether Australian authorities respect or reject the UN’s views remains to be seen, as it is not enforceable here.


The boy’s father argued that the Australian embassy in Warsaw helped his then-wife escape Poland, by getting their Polish-born son an emergency passport and drove them to the airport. The family had lived in Perth for three years before returning in 2009 to Poland, where the marriage crumbled.

His estranged spouse claimed she was the victim of domestic abuse — an accusation the father denies.

In 2011, a Family Court of WA judge ordered the boy be returned to Poland, but later that year the court’s full bench overturned that decision.

The court awarded sole parental responsibility to the mother in May 2014, with supervised access in Australia for the father.

The UN committee concluded Australia was obliged to provide an “effective remedy”, including ensuring regular contact between father and son, adequate compensation to the father and preventing similar violations in the future.

The 56-year-old father told The Sunday Times from Poland this week he would never give up fighting for his child and was hopeful Australia would accept the UN’s ruling.

He said he had had no contact with his son, now aged 11, since mid-2014.

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One thought on “WA attacks United Nations decision over Poland custody case

  1. Sunday Times gets UN Decision story of child and dad’s human rights – WRONG
    With the media constantly demonizing all men over violence, sexism and lack of equality for women I guess we can’t expect anything more than for the Sunday Times to turn a blind eye to a story that they got wrong – or at least left out the salient points.
    It is further remarkable that the Sunday Times editorial are not planning to do a follow up article to correct their mistakes and to suggest my only option would be to run a paid advertorial advertisement.
    In an article “ UN says WA breached dads rights “ published by the Sunday Times, It gave me no fair representation or right of reply, included a lack of facts and reported that the Chief Judge of the WA Family Court Stephen Thackray had criticized the UN by saying it had relied on misleading information and that I had refused every opportunity to participate in the proceedings. All of which is untrue.
    The UN Committee has ruled the Australian Government was guilty of an “arbitrary interference in my family – by “arbitrarily removing” my son from under my parental care in Poland and secretly flying my son and his mother to Australia, thus aiding the child abduction.
    The UN also ruled, Australia was guilty of “arbitrary interference in “ a father and son’s FAMILY LIFE” – by not providing an “effective right of a parent and a child to maintain personal relations and regular contacts with each other”, after the arbitrary removal of a child from the father.
    The family violence, initially alleged by my son’s mother aimed at gaining an emergency passport for our son , was proven to be false by the WA Police, by the District Court ( Family and Juvenile Department ) of Poland, and by Police Clearance Certificate sent to the Attorney General’s Office by the Polish Central Authority.
    Chief Judge Stephen Thackray says “it is particularly unfortunate that the Committee did not appreciate, that I had refused every opportunity offered to me to participate in the proceedings in the Family Court of WA” – unquote.
    But this is entirely untrue. In article 6.3 of the UN Decision the UN Committee says: “the Committee notes that the author (the father), who was residing in Poland made a significant effort, in the form of administrative and judicial actions undertaken both in Poland and in Australia, to gain access to and custody of his son”.
    “The judicial actions undertaken in Poland led to a court decision granting father custody of a child in August 2010”. “AS regards to father’s actions undertaken in Australia, the Committee noted, that these were aimed at both obtaining the return of a child and obtaining access to him, and that both of these avenues were duly exhausted, as acknowledged by the Australian Attorney General’s Department”.
    Would it suggest , that Australian Government had violated the International Law and the Sovereign Law of Poland by not accepting the fact, that Polish District Court had the sole right to make a final court order relating to child custody, in a divorce proceeding in Poland, and that it’s final court order was made and acknowledged by Attorney General’s Office, long before the Hague Child Abduction court proceedings were started in Australia, and four years before WA Family Court decided to double up on the child custody order.
    Hon Judge Thackray, in a previous Sunday Times article had hit out at the UN, saying that “the Committee relied on misleading information” and that “ if he had been asked, he would be very pleased to assist the UN Committee, so that it had accurate information” .Was he suggesting, that the Attorney General’s Department – Office of International Law in Canberra ,who was and still is the party to Geneva Human Rights proceeding had given wrong information in its submissions to the UN ?
    Judge Thackray complained in a previous Sunday Times article, “that his court was not given the opportunity to provide information to the UN Committee”.
    The question might not be whether the information upon which the UN formed its decision was accurate, but why the Attorney General did not desire to seek the assistance from the WA Family Court..
    Maybe, because the Attorney General’s Department in Canberra and the entire WA Family Court Hague proceedings were conducted under strict supervision and guidance of the Attorneys General Dept. in Canberra and in Perth.
    The Attorney General might not have chosen to rely on any additional information from WA family Court judges, because the Attorney General was in a possession of the entire file from start to the end of the proceedings.
    Arkadiusz Zoltowski – author of UN complaint

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