Child Trafficking: Parents accuse HANCI
The Voice of Handicap (VOH 96.2) was the dramatic scene yesterday when some parents from Makeni demanded from Help A Needy Child International (HANCI) some 200 of their kids who they claimed have been trafficked abroad since 1997.
The affected parents said they took their case to the Executive Director of 96.2, Taiwo Cullen after losing faith in both the Police and the Courts over the years.
These kids were taken care of by H.A.N.C.I during the war period, but their whereabouts according to the parents have still not been known. The parents say they suspected that the organization which was taking care of their kids might have sold them abroad and that it might be possible that that organization was used as a trafficking agency.
In an interview with Awoko, the Chairman of the campaign for the return of the kids, Sulaiman M. Suma explained that his two kids were taken away and that they were given documents by the organization stating that the children were doing fine. He stated that in1997-98, they were regularly visiting the kids at the center where they were kept.
He continued that when the war intensified, the children were taken to Guinea and when the man who took the kids to Guinea returned later he told them that the children had been taken abroad. "We asked him when the kids will be returning he told us they will be returning after the war."
Samura continued that after some time he heard from a local radio in Makeni announcing that two white men had arrived in the town to search for the parents of some children taken abroad during the period their kids were taken. It was said the parents of the kids were dead.
He further explained that he tried to contact the white men whom he met in Freetown at a bar with one Mr. Gbla whom they accused of taking the kids from the parents. "I immediately went with some police officers where they took the details of them and invited them to the station"
Continuing he went on, "when the white men reported at the police station they were later charged to court." We were coming from Makeni to attend court. At times we will come and either the case is adjourned or not heard. This was what we were doing as our aim was to know the whereabouts of our children."
He said further that the former Attorney General called all parties in his office and threatened to lock them up if they did not bring back the children but the only thing they did was to send pictures of some children and notes indicating that they were doing well at School. That he said they were not satisfied with as what they needed was to know exactly where their children were and with whom and their telephone numbers.
Continuing with their search, he said years later when they made further complaints, they were told that the children were adopted. "It was surprising to us to hear that word because we did not sign any adoption document"
He said the first time they met Taiwo Cullen, some H.A.N.C.I officials were there and were told by Cullen to return the children in the nearest possible time but that did not happen.
Yesterday at 96.2, the affected parents assembled to take their case further with police officers later intervening and inviting both parties to the CID. Taiwo Cullen was not at the office to be spoken to whilst several efforts to contact officials at H.A.N.C.I proved futile.
By Ishmael Bayoh