Donnerstag, 27. September 2012

Die Situation von Jungen und Mädchen in Äthiopien

Unicef hat einen neuen Bericht über die Situation von Kindern in Äthiopien herausgegeben. Der Bericht ist eine bunte Mischung aus Statistiken und Einzelschicksalen und deckt eine Vielzahl von Themen wie Bildung, Kinderarbeit, Gesundheit und regionale Entwicklungen ab. Auf Seite 31 befindet sich ein Kapitel über Kinder in Pflege und internationale Adoptionen wie auch eine beunruhigende Analyse von Kinderhandel in Äthiopien.

Investing in Boys and Girls in Ethiopia: Past, Present and Future 2012

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the United Nations in Ethiopia


Children in Alternative Care

HIV and AIDS, natural disasters, severe poverty, war, internal migration and other factors, as well as the breakdown of family structures, have caused a rise in the number of children in need of alternative care. In the absence of a formal system of family-based alternatives, many such children find themselves in child care institutions. Nationally this figure is likely to be in excess of 10,000. In 2010, two assessments of institutional child care were conducted by the Ministry of Justice, together with the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, the Charities and Societies Agency and the six regional bureaus of justice, BoLSA, BoWA, BoFED and Regional Police Commissions. The study assessed 149 child care institutions in Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Dire Dawa City Administration and Harar. Almost two thirds of these assessed child care institutions lack a database on children in need of alternative care. The study found that 45 per cent of the child care centres had no operating licence or their license had expired. The effect of lack of financial resources and supervision, and minimal awareness of child protection strategies, mean that institutions providing alternative care to children do not always act in the best interests of the child. There is little knowledge of, and compliance with, official guidelines and standards, and minimal supervision. Children in institutional care can be exposed to physical violence and often have psychological problems. Over 4,500 children were placed in inter-country adoption in 2009, which represents a doubling since 2006. This rapid increase in the number of inter-country adoptions has raised concerns about the best interests of the child in these cases, where Ethiopia has not ratified the Hague Convention on Inter country Adoption (1993) and there is a lack of safeguards in an unregulated system.

Child Victims of Trafficking

The International Office of Migration estimates that at least 1.2 million children are victims of trafficking in Ethiopia every year. Children and women between the ages of 8 and 24 years are the most vulnerable to such abuse and exploitation and the violence associated with them. Research also indicates that over a quarter of nearly 50,000 women and children involved in prostitution are victims of trafficking. The Criminal Code includes provisions criminalizing trafficking in women and children for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation. Juridical persons (institutions) can also be liable for participation in the trafficking of children under article 645 of the Criminal Code. The Federal Police Department has formed an anti-trafficking task force, but most trafficking is clandestine and difficult to trace.  

Montag, 17. September 2012

Investigating the Grey Zones

The US branch of ISS - International Social Service - has published a detailed report about illegal practices in intercountry adoption. The report titled "Investigating the Grey Zones of Intercountry Adoption" covers a wide spectrum of problems ranging from Baby Farms, Child Laundering to Abduction and Forced Abandonment. It is a comprehensive overview of reported scandals and links those intelligently with international law particularly with the The Hague Convention of 1993 (THC 93). It's starting point is in fact that despite the increasing ratification of the Hague Convention about 60% of all intercountry adoptions take place in countries which are not covered by the Convention. Those countries who are covered tend not to get involved, while those countries, particular sending countries, who are involved are not covered by the convention.

While the report is certainly very useful as a documentation of widespread abuse of the system, it's overall message and approach is not as effective as it could be. A few comments can point to the problem:
  • The report aims to cover "grey zones". In fact the examples given and the themes discussed are not at all grey but clearly illegal. Document falsification, baby farming and stealing, forced abandonment are all criminal acts - even in countries with weak administrative systems where they usually take place. This is not a grey zone but rather a zone in which illegal acts are not prosecuted. Even in countries such as Ethiopia baby stealing, laundering and forced abandonment is not legal. This is a big difference because it points to potential solutions of the problem.
  • The debate about definitions of illegal adoption as child trafficking might hinder international cooperation but the act in itself - the illegal adoption - can be prosecuted even if it is not defined as child trafficking.
  • Problems of enforcement and prosecution of illegal adoption procedures point to the fact that in many sending (and sometimes receiving) countries, public authorities such as the police, courts and immigration authorities are implicated in illegal adoptions. Courts for instance processes cases which do not have sufficient paperwork; police officers report children as abandoned without searching for their families; immigration authorities give entry visa even though the adoption papers are dubious. If these public agencies were more careful in playing their roles and held accountable, much less of illegal adoption would take place.
  • The responsibility of the receiving country is downplayed in this perspective. The receiving country usually has the resources and the administrative capacity to apply the rule of law to intercountry adoptions. They should be hold accountable for the legality of the adoptions they process. Rather than pointing to weak administrations in poor countries, agencies and public authorities of receiving countries need to take on their responsibilities which their governments agreed to under THC93.
  • The money flow in ICA can be regulated by receiving countries. Fees could be monitored and agency behaviour could be controlled. It is a lack of will in receiving countries that allows easily corruptable actors and procedures to flourish.
  • Therefore there is little need to wait for THC93 to be strengthened or even applied in all sending countries. The lever for stopping abuse in the system lies squarely with the regulators in receiving countries. This is where the emphasis and spotlight should be.
Again, a great report but also a missed opportunity to identify the weaknesses of existing regulation in ICA.