Ban on Child Adoptions to Be Lifted in 2014

A government official announced Wednesday that intercountry adoptions from Cambodia will resume in 2014, ending a five-year moratorium imposed amid widespread reports of child exploitation in the sector.

Cambodia banned adoptions shortly after passing the Adoption Law in 2009 in response to reports of child trafficking and children being sold to orphanages—despite having one or more parents still living—and adopting parents paying large sums of money to obtain children.

In October 2012, the government said it would lift the ban by early 2013. But countries with their own bans on adopting children from Cambodia did not respond in kind as they said not enough progress had been made to ensure the process would be immune to child abuse violations.

Nim Thoth, secretary of state with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Youth Rehabilitation, announced the 2014 resumption date on the sidelines of a two-day training and consultation workshop in Phnom Penh on international adoption law.

“Though we stated that we would begin adoptions in January 2013, we since accepted some of the regulations have not been completed. But, after taking advice from The Hague and various embassies, we have decided that we will now implement the adoption process in 2014,” he said, without giving an exact timeframe.

The workshop brought together more than 50 Cambodian judges and officials from the ministries of justice and social affairs to discuss how to implement the Adoption Law and the Hague Adoption Convention, which Cambodia signed in 2007.

Sun-Ah Kim, deputy representative for Unicef Cambodia, which co-hosted the workshop, said that while progress had been made, more safeguards need to be implemented before adoptions resume in Cambodia.

“Essential safeguards to ensure the proper case management of adoptions need to be in place before the resumption of adoptions in Cambodia,” she said, emphasizing that domestic adoptions should be a priority and intercountry adoptions a last resort, while alternatives such as foster care need to be explored.

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