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.