Efforts to stop child trafficking

Madagascar is to review all legislation pertaining to international adoptions amid growing concern over the increase in child trafficking, IRIN learnt on Monday.

In the past year police have reportedly smashed five networks dealing in the illicit adoption of children aged between two months and 10 years, mainly destined for Europe, where they were sold for about US $800 each.

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) child protection officer Valerie Tanton said a recent meeting between Malagasy officials and child rights workers had drawn attention to the need to revise the existing laws governing adoption.

"Although most adoptions are legal, it was decided that international adoption should be the exception rather than the rule," Tanton told IRIN.

She added that plans were underway to centralise the adoption process: under the current decentralised system, prospective parents apply to regional adoption centres and usually agree on a sum of about US $2,400 and $4,900 per child.

Poverty often forced mothers to give their children up for adoption or abandon them at adoption centres. "We find that, in some cases, individuals take advantage of the fact that many young single women cannot look after their young children," Tanton explained.

Under the proposed new system, a central authority will be established in the Population and Children's ministry and adoption requests will no longer be sent directly to the 24 specialised centres operating in different parts of Madagascar.

Placing a moratorium on all adoptions in Madagascar until the end of the year was also discussed, said Tanton.