exposing the dark side of adoption
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Summary record of the 380th meeting : Bangladesh. 29/05/97.

15. The reservation in respect of article 21 of the Convention was of particular importance. In Bangladesh hundreds of thousands of children were homeless and there was no real capacity to provide institutions to care for them. Bangladesh should therefore reconsider its reservation, which had been made in a different context. Basic children's rights could not be guaranteed unless a comprehensive study was made of means of caring for children who lacked a suitable family environment. The interest shown by Bangladesh in withdrawing the reservation was an expression of the country's willingness to deal with very serious problems.
16. The Convention's innovative approval to the question of children's rights constituted one of the most difficult problems that States parties faced in implementing the instrument. If religious law took precedence over the Convention and the national Constitution, how did Bangladesh plan to deal with the resulting situation? Under religious and personal law there were many violations of rights, including discrimination against women and girl children. Illegitimate children did not have the same rights as other children, and there were other areas of difference. How did the two legal frameworks fit together?
17. Mr. RABAH asked what steps had been taken since 1990 to establish a mechanism for implementing the Convention. He also wished to know whether there was a conflict of laws between Hindus and Muslims in relation to their traditional methods of dealing with childhood problems? It had been stated that in the case of conflict between national statute law and the Convention, the former would prevail. However, that contradicted the provisions of both national and international law. Did the Government intervene in family education to ensure the best interests of children, and could clarification be given of the inequality which existed between boys and girls in relation to the problem of inheritance? Finally, what forms of cooperation had been undertaken with NGOs both before and after 1990, the date on which Bangladesh had ratified the Convention.
18. Mr. KOLOSOV said that the documentation submitted by Bangladesh was impressive in that it clearly acknowledged the difficulties which existed. In addition, details were provided of how Bangladesh intended to resolve those difficulties. That approach would enable a meaningful dialogue to be conducted with the aim of accelerating the improvement of the situation of children in Bangladesh. However, the process would be a long one as Bangladesh was a country with a very large population.
19. Article 21 (b) of the Convention provided that States parties "shall recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child's care". Since the provision was derogable, there was no need for a special reservation with respect to it. Withdrawal of the reservation would in fact be preferable. The reservation to article 14, paragraph 1, was in contrast a non-derogable right, in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the International Covenants on Civil and Political, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Parents did have rights of guidance, based on a child's evolving capacities, but in principle the right to freedom of religion was non-derogable.
20. Paragraph 74 of the report stated that in accordance with the Constitution of Bangladesh, every citizen had the right to profess, practise or propagate any religion. The Constitution also defined all persons over the age of 18 as citizens. Since that category did not include children, the reservation entered appeared to contradict the Convention on the Rights of the Child and indeed the Constitution itself. In the Government's written answers (para. 3) it was stated that child development activities were being enhanced by means of seminars and workshops. The last workshop having taken place in December 1996, she wished to know what further action of that nature was to be taken. The Government's initial report contained a table showing sectoral allocations during the Fourth Five-Year Plan. However, the supplementary report did not contain similar data and figures for the different periods could therefore not be compared.
21. Mr. FULCI asked why the practice of intercountry adoption had ceased to be legal in Bangladesh after 1982. Referring to paragraph 14 of the report, he said he was pleased to note that the Government was currently considering the adoption of a comprehensive national policy on children. In that connection, he emphasized the desirability of incorporating all legislation relating to children in a single text.
22. Paragraph 37 of the report noted that a serious information gap existed with regard to the state of children in Bangladesh. Quantitative indicators on many aspects of the situation of children were an essential prerequisite for any action on their behalf. Had anything been done, therefore, to close the information gap? 

1997 May 29