AFRICANGLOBE – Members of the East African Legislative Assembly, who are currently sitting in Kampala, want EAC partner states to abolish international child adoption to stop the likelihood of children falling into the hands of traffickers.
EALA on August 19 passed a general purpose report on the rights of the child, which wants EAC partner states — Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi — to change their laws to restrict adoption of children to their nationals only.
Only Rwanda prohibits non-nationals from adopting children.
Valerie Nyirahabineza, a former Rwandan minister in charge of family and women promotion, made the proposal to ban international child adoptions in the EAC.
The Rwandan government banned international adoptions, during Ms Nyirahabineza’s tenure as minister between 2003 and 2008, when it was discovered that four Norwegian men, who approached her looking to adopt 400 children, had a contract with hospitals that would then sell children to interested parents.
The first step for Kigali was to ask parents to report with their adopted children to various Rwandan embassies across the world at least once a year, so that their wellbeing is monitored. But the government has since banned international adoptions.
Laws in Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda still allow for non-nationals to adopt children. In Tanzania, the only condition is that you have to be a resident in the country at the time of adoption.
The proposal to ban international adoptions was supported by Ugandan Minister in charge of EAC Affairs Shem Bageine.
“Let’s not allow our children to be adopted by foreigners,” he said.
He also added that the governments should make sure that gays do not adopt any children from the region. According to him, a child’s view of the world would be affected if he had to call a man mum or a woman dad.
“If they think homosexuality is normal, let them have their own children, the same as we heterosexuals do,” he said.
In recent years, Uganda and Kenya
have been attempting to pass laws that would criminalise homosexuality, but resistance from Western countries has frustrated these efforts.
Mr Bageine promised to take the war against homosexuals adopting children to the Council of Ministers.
“We need to make sure that once motions are passed here, they can be implemented in the partner states,” he added.
Mr Bageine said partner states have ignored the EAC Treaty that requires them to consider motions and laws passed by EALA superior to those of the national parliaments.
Dan Kidega, the EAC Speaker said the Legal and Privileges Committee will follow up on the efforts made in partner states and update EALA to ensure that the recommendations are implemented. EALA also called for a ban on orphanages, saying they contravene the United Nations Convention.
According to Ms Nyirahabineza, orphanages institutionalise children, yet the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child, require that children are raised by parents.
Susan Nakuwuki an EALA representative from Uganda also proposed a ban on boarding schooling for children aged less than 10 years, since article 7 and 9 of this convention, guarantees rights to children to be raised by parents not institutions. The ban on children below 10 years going to boarding school was also taken as an EALA recommendation.
Other recommendations include working with national governments to eliminate female genital mutilation, child labour, early marriages and corporal punishment.
EALA also wants governments to remove the requirement of fees payment for parents registering the births of their children.
EAC partner states are further expected to provide legal help to victims of child abuse, especially those seeking justice after they have suffered violence.
By: Divta Asiimwe
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