Quote from Romania-For Export Only:
Sunday, 11 June 2000
On the Internet I found an interesting report from the UN Rapporteur on the Sale of Children on intercountry adoptions from Guatemala. It said legal adoptions appeared to be the exception rather than the rule…
‘Since huge profits can be made, the child has become an object of commerce, rather than the focus of the law. Trafficking of babies and young children for inter-country adoption exists on a large scale. The system lends itself to the nefarious practice of reducing children to commercial objects to be offered to the highest bidders.’
The report also mentioned ‘casas de engordeza’, fattening houses, where babies were kept while the adoption process went through. Falsification of documents was common. Sounded like Romania, Guatemala.
Since then, both Romania and Guatemala have reformed their adoptions systems and intercountry adoptions are as good as stopped.
Both countries are under continuous pressure to re-open the export of their children.
There is, however, an important difference between Romania and Guatemala. In Guatemala, unlike in Romania, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) investigated the child trafficking networks that used illegal adoption procedures, identified the actors and how in they operated. Some quotes from the CICIG report:
Full report can be read HERE.
- In criminal cases, the Guatemalan Penal Code characterizes trafficking in persons for illegal adoption purposes as a crime, like other similar behaviors, such as irregular adoptions and irregular adoption proceedings. It is important to remember that when adoption networks act, they also commit a series of crimes such as money laundering, active and passive bribery or misrepresentation, to name but a few.
- This explains the creation of transnational organized crime networks, which aroused the concern of international bodies, particularly the United Nations, and the suspension of international adoption proceedings of Guatemalan children by some European countries, by resolution of the European Parliament.
- This reflects how, when there is no clear legislation or strict controls by State institutions, the meaning of adoption changes. Priority is given to the will of the adopter at any cost and by any means, putting it ahead of the best interests of the child.
- However, contrary to what is set out in the Hague Convention, in some countries, after the adoptive parents expressed their desire to adopt a child, international adoption agencies contacted their facilitators and/or representatives, who were given the task of finding a child that had the characteristics demanded by the adoptive parents. Over the years, some agencies set up representatives, offices and adoption programs to facilitate their work in children’s countries of origin. This meant that some of the international adoption agencies looked for countries with weak legislation, few controls or easily corruptible authorities, with a view to undertaking a large number of adoptions of children from those countries.
Prosecutions, although still piecemeal, are underway.
But the children who were literally robbed from their mothers arms, have not been returned. Foundation Sobrevivientes is calling for justice, read about it here (in Spanish).
Therefore, the State is required to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for trafficking of children in connection with irregular adoption proceedings.
It should also be noted that trafficking in persons for illegal adoption and related offenses are prosecutable criminal activities under the Law on Organized Crime, which includes other crimes linked to this activity, such as obstruction of justice and conspiracy, and establishes special investigative means which seek, as the purpose of criminal policy, not only the punishment of members of these criminal structures, but dismantling the same.