Draft of the Int’l Adoption Law Outlines Procedure, Standards

The Council of Ministers ap­proved a draft of the International Adoption Law, which addresses procedures for foreigners to adopt Cambodian children, the Council said in a Friday statement.

The release stated that after a four-hour meeting at the Council of Ministers Friday morning, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Coun­cil approved the draft of the Inter­national Adoption Law proposed by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The drafting of the new law first began in June 2004.

“The law’s goal is setting the principle, condition, procedure for effective international adoption in the goal for guaranteeing the highest interest and protection of the children’s basic rights, which is the ob­jective of international adoption,” read the statement.

Several countries, including the US and Great Britain, have been waiting for such a law to be implemented before considering allowing their citizens to adopt Cambodian children because of concerns over child trafficking.

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ February update, Cambodian adoptions have been suspended since December 2001 due to “fraud, irregularities, and allegations of child-buying in the Cambodian adoption process.”

The US and Britain have said they will review their bans when Cambodia adopts a law that meets the standards laid out in a 1993 Ha­gue convention on inter-country adoptions.

Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, said Sunday that she had not seen the new draft law and therefore could not comment specifically on it, but added that issues that have come to Li­cadho’s attention over the past 10 years of investigating adoption cases have shown that “overseas adoption is driven by demand rather than the best interest of the child.”

“The [current adoption] procedure is not properly implemented,” Ms Pilorge said. “There are no specific procedures on checking background info.”

Social Affairs Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

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