Italian girls' family gag

The girls - aged 15, 13, 11 and nine - reportedly will remain in foster care until the matter is resolved.
The girls - aged 15, 13, 11 and nine - reportedly will remain in foster care until the matter is resolved.

COAST family members of the four girls locked in a bitter international custody battle have been gagged by their legal team after Friday's High Court hearing in Brisbane.

The mother of the four Italian-born girls was ordered to send her daughters back to Italy this month to face custody proceedings after she fled their home country for Australia in 2010.

But that changed on Friday when the presiding justice ordered a show-cause application be heard before the full bench of the High Court in Brisbane in the first week of August.

The girls - aged 15, 13, 11 and nine - reportedly will remain in foster care until the matter is resolved.

Members of their maternal family yesterday were unwilling to comment on the outcome of the court hearing or how the girls were faring, citing advice from their legal teams.

It is unclear how much contact the girls will have with either of their parents while they are in care.

The Daily understands the family does not want to risk jeopardising the case by continuing to have it played out in the media.

It comes as Family Law Practitioners' Association of Queensland president Deborah Awyzio described the show-cause application made by Tony Morris QC on Friday as "rare".

"The High Court application, as we understand it, is seeking that the High Court issue an injunction against Justice Forrest of the Family Court of Australia and the quashing of the return order," Ms Awyzio said.

"The application is sought on the grounds that the children were denied 'natural justice' in making the original order.

"This is a rare application that urges the High Court to consider the case on the grounds of basic human rights under the Constitution, beyond the parameters of the Hague Convention to which Australia is a signatory."

Brisbane Times quoted Mr Morris as saying he saw the case as an opportunity to fight for the rights of all children.

"This decision ... will set in stone for all time the rights of children to be treated as human beings and not just the goods and chattels of their parents," he said.

"When opportunities like this come up, they're opportunities to set the system right for every future case.

"It's also a great thing that this opportunity has come along, not just for these four girls, but for all children.

"I'm optimistic that the High Court will say every child, who is old enough to have a sensible view about what they want with their own lives, should have the right to be heard."

Topics:  custody, family, gag, high court, italian



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