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MP Antti Kaikkonen (ALDE Finland): Speech in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 24th January 2008, Strasbourg

Disappearance of newborn babies for illegal adoption in Europe

Mr. President, members of the assembly

According to latest studies, the problems with inter-country adoption and child trafficking are systematic and persistent - not exceptional or occasional. Over the last two decades a number of nations, sending children for international adoption, have been shut down due to adoption scandals concerning corruption and child trafficking. Even though international efforts and law primarily focus on the sending nations, the governments of countries that are in the receiving-end also have an ethical duty to exhaust all regulatory and monitoring possibilities for preventing inter-country adoption from degenerating into illicit trafficking.

As Ms. Vermot-Mangold’s explanatory memorandum confirms commercial activities with regard to the adoption of children are not unusual in Europe. In practice this sometimes means that the adoptive parents end up making payments, labeled as various birth-parent expenses or service charges, which are used to bribe a child’s biological parents and / or the local authorities. But in most cases of illegal adoption a fair amount of the money the adoptive parents pay for the interstate adoption, end-up in the pockets of child traffickers. Hence, it seems obvious that the more money there is in circulation with regards to interstate adoption, the more corrupt is the system. What we are facing here is a situation in which the very system, designed to help and protect children in need, has become a cause of their suffering.

It is self-evident that the point of departure in addressing unethical adoption practices must be “the best interest of the child”, as agreed in the Hague Convention. But I see a win-win situation here, because finding out that a child who has been awaited for years and with whom the ‘new’ parents have developed a strong emotional bond, has been taken away from his biological parents, relatives and country by corrupt means, must be unimaginably distressing for the adoptive parents.

To address this appalling state of affairs, the preferred option would naturally be that all Council of Europe member states sign, ratify and implement the relevant international conventions, which should then be implemented and monitored on national level. In addition, the assembly could invite the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to pay an even closer attention to the rights and protection of newborns in his country reports, because I believe that it will only be through naming and shaming of national practices, we can commit all member states to better regulation and monitoring.

 President, fellow-parliamentarians,

Child trafficking is a profound violation of human rights that international law and society must vigorously seek to abolish, wherever it may be found and whatever disguises it may adopt. The international society has in no way exhausted the regulatory and monitoring possibilities for preventing inter-country adoption from degenerating into a form of trafficking, and thus I also fully support this report.