Birth parents want to see 'trafficked' child

Date: 2008-09-03

Birth parents want to see 'trafficked' child

September 3, 2008

THE Indian birth parents of a nine-year-old girl allegedly stolen by child-traffickers before being adopted by an unwitting Queensland couple have now asked to see her.

Seven years after the girl was allegedly sold to an Indian adoption agency, a lawyer for the birth parents reportedly contacted Queensland's Department of Child Safety asking for help to resolve the case.

But Queensland Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech today said she had not received a letter from the girl's lawyer, as Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland promised tougher scrutiny on inter-country adoptions and revealed other applications had been frozen pending further investigation.

The Australian obtained a copy of the letter yesterday.

The letter states that the birth parents want to see the girl, in Australia or India, to bring an end to their "emotional pain".

'Stolen in front of her mother'

"My clients' child was stolen by anti-social elements, who had kidnapped her in a running vehicle, when she was playing on the road, in front of (her mother) Fathima's eyes," the letter states.

"Since then, Fathima's had lost her peace (sic) and looking forward to see her child some day. My clients came to know from the local police that their child is placed in adoption to a couple at Queensland, Australia.

"My clients are eager to know about the wellbeing of their child, to have one look at the child. It has been explained to my clients, that she will not be speaking their language. But still they would like to see that their child is fine and is being taken care by the adoptive parents."

But Mrs Keech said her department was yet to receive the letter, and it would be up to federal authorities to consent to the meeting.

"I've asked my department to check if we've received the letter from the Indian lawyer," she told ABC Radio.

"At this stage I'm advised we have not received that letter but we are continuing to investigate to see if that letter has arrived."

Child trafficking ring

It is believed at least 30 children adopted in Australia may have been stolen from their parents by a child trafficking ring operating in India between 1998 and 1999.

Canberra has been in touch with authorities in New Delhi to raise concerns about the allegations, however Australia no longer deals with the agencies allegedly involved in child trafficking.

Liberal MP Philip Ruddock, who was attorney-general in the previous Howard government and who helped oversee intercountry adoption laws, today moved to reassure the community.

"(The claims) ought not to be used as a basis for undermining confidence in intercountry adoptions," Mr Ruddock said.

The Federal Government was increasingly involved in measures to ensure overseas adoptions were carried out correctly, and people should be reassured by this, he said.

The claims related to events "a good while ago", and Mr Ruddock said he had seen no evidence they were still happening.

"I think we have a much more thorough regime in place to ensure that that doesn't happen," he said.

Australia had signed international conventions to ensure children were treated appropriately.

- With The Australian and AAP

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