exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Safi man jailed in Pakistan for child trafficking


Wednesday, May 24, 2006 by Rosanne Zammit

Safi man jailed in Pakistan for child trafficking

A Pakistani-born Maltese national, Dennis Charles, was on Saturday sentenced to a seven-year prison term in Karachi, Pakistan, for kidnapping 11 infants who were to be smuggled to Malta.

Last Sunday's edition of the Karachi newspaper Dawn Metropolitan reported that Mr Charles, together with his brother Derrick and another couple, were sentenced to seven years by an additional district and sessions judge. They were also fined Rs100,000 (Lm560) each.

The case against the accused was registered with the Gulshan-i-Iqbal police in March 2002 when it was reported that four boys and seven girls aged between 15 days and one year, kidnapped from state-run and private hospitals in Karachi, were found at a bungalow in Gulshan-i-Iqbal. They had been confined to a single room, which had only a dirty old mattress on the floor.

In the preliminary interrogations, Dennis Charles had admitted that he had paid different amounts to unknown people to smuggle infants to Malta. The children were then sold to childless couples for between $1,500 and $2,000 (Lm500 to Lm670) each.

The accused also admitted to having smuggled many infants to Malta with the help of his wife Concetta and his brother Derrick.

During the raid, the police had also seized seven passports belonging to the children, most of whom were ill and feeble. The infants were later handed over to a trust.

Telephone calls to Mr and Mrs Charles' residence in Safi yesterday were not answered.

A spokesman for the Family Ministry said the judgement handed down in Pakistan was a step in the right direction and sent a forceful message to persons involved in the odious crime of child trafficking that this would not be tolerated, the world over.

However, this would never make up entirely for the harm caused to the children and their families and the government would do everything in its power to ensure that strict measures were in place so as to combat "this world-wide scourge" in no uncertain terms.

The spokesman said that in February last year, Malta acceded to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoptions.

This convention set up a structure which could work towards combating and avoiding the sale and trafficking of children, through a centralised state authority which in Malta was the Department for Social Welfare Standards.

Children adopted from countries that were not signatories to the convention would need a visa to enter Malta, which was only granted if the necessary guarantees were provided by a state authority.

The ministry, the spokesman said, had also been working steadily on the Adoption Act which had now reached its final stages.

This would be another step showing the government's firm commitment towards safeguarding the best interests of children, the spokesman said.

2006 May 24