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United Nations urges Guatemala to suspend adoptions
GUATEMALA CITY | Wednesday, Jun 13 2007 04:36:56 IST
 
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The United Nations has told Guatemala to suspend all adoptions in an effort to clamp down on what it calls a corrupt trade where private lawyers pay mothers for newborn babies, a UN official said.

Guatemalan lawmakers are revising the country's adoption laws to address concerns, but the UN committee on child rights said the country should take action now to stop a lucrative industry of newborns sent mainly to the United States.

''In Guatemala children are sold into adoption, which means there are significant economic interests at play,'' said Rosa Maria Ortiz, the special rapporteur for Guatemala on the UN's committee for child rights.

''Lawmakers need to legislate without those kinds of pressures, so it is better to stop adoptions while Congress is modifying their adoption laws,'' Ortiz told Reuters by phone from Geneva, where the committee met last week.

Under pressure from Washington, Guatemalan lawmakers ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions last month, but the international treaty does not take effect until December 31. The committee recommended stopping adoptions until then.

To comply with the convention, Guatemala has to create a centralized federal agency that would oversee adoptions and pass a law to regulate what the UN says are ''irregular practices'' by lawyers and notaries. Adoptive parents say some lawyers charge up to 40,000 dollars to handle adoptions.

Guatemala is unlikely to follow the UN recommendation to suspend adoptions because the constitution would have to be changed to take such action, government officials said.

Close to 5,000 children were adopted from Guatemala last year, said Ortiz, making the small Central American country of 13 million people the highest per capita source of adopted babies in the world.

''You look at neighboring countries and the number of adopted children does not rise above 100,'' Ortiz said. ''That means in Guatemala there is an incentive to give up babies for adoption.'' The United States, by far the world's largest international adopter, plans to implement the Hague Convention this year, which could bar adoptions from noncompliant countries.

-- (Reuters) -- 13FN5.xml

 

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