Qld: Govt to help investigate kidnapped Indian children claims

Date: 2008-08-24

Qld: Govt to help investigate kidnapped Indian children claims

24 August, 2008

The Queensland government says it will co-operate with Indian investigators looking into into shock claims that children adopted from India may have been kidnapped from their parents.

VIDEO: Stolen Indian children

The federal government says it too is investigating the claim.

More than a dozen attractive children kidnapped from Indian slums have ended up being adopted in Australia, TIME Magazine has reported.

The magazine interviewed an Indian mother named Fatima whose two-year-old daughter Zabeen was allegedly kidnapped seven years ago.

According to the magazine, police in India now say she was processed by Malaysian Social Services (MSS) and adopted by a family in Queensland.

Allegations 'serious'

Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the government was treating the allegations seriously.

"I am aware of allegations regarding child trafficking and share concerns for the safety of children adopted from overseas," Mr McClelland said.

"I have asked my department to make direct contact with the Indian authorities and provide me with a brief on any potential legal issues arising in India and Australia.

"I will ensure that any matters arising are duly acted upon by my department and where relevant are passed on for states and territories to implement."

Queensland Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech today said that of the 23 adoptions made from India between 1995 and 2007, only two were through MSS.

"The department advises me that they've done a very thorough investigation into those 23 cases from India and that there is currently only one case that they are continuing to investigate," Ms Keech said.

"I have since also asked for another in-depth audit of all of those 23 cases involved."

QLD department works with family

Ms Keech said the department was working closely with the family involved, offering services such as counselling, adding that it was a traumatic time for them.

She said it was too early to consider using DNA paternity tests as it was still only allegations and the adoptive parents could legally refuse to have the child's DNA tested.

Ms Keech said she she would like to see all future international adoptions go through the Australian attorney-general's office, instead of through the respective state or territory, to ensure
there was a uniform procedure throughout the country.

Adoption legislation

However, federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson rejected suggestions Canberra should wrest control of adoption legislation from the states.

"I don't think that we should have knee-jerk responses that suggest that the commonwealth should automatically take it over," Dr Nelson said.

"So let's just wait until we get the outcome of the inquiry before people start to say: `Well, if the commonwealth takes it over that will solve all the problems'."

Dr Nelson said any children kidnapped in an overseas adoption jacket would likely have to be returned to their families.

Let us hope that the inquiry, in fact, does not find that children have been effectively kidnapped," Dr Nelson told reporters in Adelaide today.

"But if they have, then we will have a moral responsibility to do the right thing.”

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