exposing the dark side of adoption
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Politicos involved in child racket?


By Jamila Najmuddin 

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) yesterday charged that some politicians and influential officials may be involved in the 'child trade' thus hampering investigations into some of these incidents. 

NCPA Chairman Jagath Wellawatta told the Daily Mirror that some hospital authorities and marriage registrars were also involved in the racket which is why few cases of child smuggling had been solved to date. 

"It is true that some politicians and influential people may be involved and interfere in the child smuggling process. Because of their power, they try to prevent the investigations from going any further," Mr. Wellawatta said. 

He further said tighter laws had to be introduced to deal with the issue as currently all those involved earned money by selling an innocent child. 

"Hospital staff and marriage registrars equally have to blame for this issue. There have been many times that they have been directly involved," he said. 

The baby smuggling racket in Sri Lanka came out in the open once again when the Colombo Central Intelligence Bureau raided a secret location in Maligawatte last week where auctioning of infants had taken place for some time. 

A mother of three and eight other suspects along with a ten day old infant girl were also taken into custody. At the time of the raid, the infant was about to be sold for Rs. 25,000.

According to investigations, the owner of the auction house had been helped by a number of brokers who brought childless couples to the place for a commission. 

The baby racket had also surfaced when in December last year, police found a newborn who had been grabbed at Colombo Hospital while his mother was in the restroom. Amidst much public attention, police searched around the clock and apprehended the woman who allegedly snatched the infant. Two more infants were kidnapped from the same hospital and police were questioning the same woman in connection with those stolen babies. 

The kidnapping at Colombo Hospital in December prompted an investigation by the CID of three major state-run hospitals in Sri Lanka, probing into what was a large baby smuggling ring and document forgery racket. 

The investigations were also prompted by the kidnapping of a newborn from a state run Hospital and the disappearance of another child from the same hospital. 

Several hospital workers were allegedly in on the racket which was revealed after an attempt by a Dutch couple to smuggle a Sri Lankan baby out of the country. 

According to the investigations, it is suspected that at least four babies had already been smuggled out of the country in the past year. 

According to the CID, hospital employees target mothers with various problems including financial difficulties and convince them to turn over their babies to be adopted by rich families. 

Investigations further revealed in some instances, the hospital authorities seem to hand over blank 'birth declaration forms' to people, so that anyone can fill in any details they want. That explains how bogus names are listed as those of the actual mother and father.

2009 Feb 11