UK Couples Appeal Cambodian Adoption Ban

Six couples launched an appeal at the British High Court on Mon­day to challenge Britain’s decision to ban adoptions from Cambodia, The Times of London newspaper re­­ported Tues­day.

Britain suspended adoptions from Cambodia on June 22, 2004, after concluding that the process in­­volved falsified documents, the il­legal involvement of facilitators, the prevalence of child trafficking and corruption in general.

The couples, who were midway through the adoption process when the ban was imposed, said it took no account of Cambodia’s hu­man­itarian crisis, The Times said.

The ban “has been grossly un­fair, not only to us but to the or­phaned children we would have adop­ted had the ban not been im­posed,” said Malcolm Dixon, who along with his wife was attempting to adopt a baby at the time of the ban, The Times reported.

Cambodia’s “state orphanages are overflowing,” Dixon said. “That is why Cambodians have thousands of street children.”

When the ban was imposed, Bri­­tain’s Minister of State for Child­ren, Young People and Fa­mi­lies, Margaret Hodge, cited an in­ves­tigation by British officials and the British Embassy in Phnom Penh for enacting the suspension.

The British Embassy on Tues­day declined comment on the case as it is underway.

Kek Galabru, founder of local rights group Licadho, said Tues­day that the problems that prompted Britain and other Western countries to ban adoptions from Cambodia remain.

“It’s not safe” for foreigners to adopt, she said. “Some women are willing to traffic a baby for $30 to $50. We want to avoid this kind of trafficking.”

The same month that Britain im­posed the ban, convicted Cam­bo­dian baby broker Lauryn Ga­lin­do pleaded guilty in US federal court to visa fraud, money laundering and currency structuring.

Between 1997 and 2001, her Seattle International Adoptions agency arranged at least 700 adoptions in Cambodia.

Court documents obtained in Au­gust showed Galindo paid government officials up to $3,500 for each adoption she facilitated.

If the fee was standard for each adoption, as the documents suggested, Cambodian officials may have profited $2.45 million during the time Galindo operated here.

The government said it does not charge fees for adoptions.


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