exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Italy may return Rwandan children

Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Italy may return Rwandan children

Many Rwandan children were evacuated to Europe
The 41 Rwandan children at the centre of an international adoption row between Italy and Rwanda may be returned to their home country.
An Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Riino Serri told Olenka Frenkiel of the BBC's Crossing Continents programme that the controversial adoptions would have to be examined to assess their legitimacy and that the children may well have to return to Rwanda.
Mr Serri said that he would recommend that the Italian couples who adopted them should go to Rwanda with the children to check whether the adoptions were carried out according to Rwandan law.
The 41 children were taken with hundreds of others to Italy from Rwanda in 1994 to save them from the genocide that killed almost a million Rwandans.
Stayed behind
But while many Rwandan children returned once peace was restored, these 41 remained in Italy and last year were adopted by Italian families.
The adoptions took place without the consent of either their surviving relatives in Rwanda who have been asking for their return since 1995 or the Rwandan Government and caused a huge diplomatic row.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Rome last November demanding their return.
Rwanda's Attorney General Gerard Gahima told the BBC's Crossing Continents programme that Rwanda considers these children to have been kidnapped.
International law
Italy has signed up to the Hague Convention on inter-country adoptions, which states that adoptions cannot be permitted without the agreement of the legal adoption authorities in the country of origin as well as the country of the adopted parents.
Adoptions are also not permitted without discussion with surviving relatives.
Neither of these steps were taken and now the Rwandan Government is planning legal action.
All legal precedents from the case of Elian in Cuba and Miami to recent judgements regarding the so-called "internet twins" in the UK and US suggest that if the case comes to court the Rwandans will win and the children will be forced to return.
Way out
However a mediated solution may be possible if the Italian parents act soon.
The Rwandan Attorney General told the BBC that some of the contested adoptions would be regarded favourably and the parents would be allowed to return to Italy with the children.
Now it appears that the Italian Government is backing the Rwandans in that call.
The Italian families who have adopted the children in northern Italy have always refused to comment to the press.
2001 Apr 12