(Mar. 2, 2010) The International Adoption Working Group (IAWG), an ad hoc organization comprising diplomatic mission representatives of countries that have or are considering having adoption agencies (private or state-run) in Nepal, recently called upon the Nepali government to improve the inter-country adoption process. A press release issued on February 24, 2010, by the U.S. Embassy in Nepal on behalf of 14 IAWG member-country embassies called upon the Government of Nepal
to act swiftly to strengthen the adoption process by implementing all 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption regulations, including implementing measures aimed at ensuring authenticity and accuracy of documents, promoting family preservation and, most importantly, safeguarding children's well-being.
(Press Release, U.S. Embassy in Nepal, Statement by International Adoption Working Group (Feb. 24, 2010), Nepal PEAR [Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform] Adoption Information website, available at http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2010/02/statement-by-internation
Signees of the statement included the embassies of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The Press Release also expressed support for “providing the Nepali government technical assistance in this matter.” (Id.; 14 Countries Urge Govt to Bolster Adoption Process, THE HIMALAYAN TIMES, Feb. 24, 2010, available athttp://www.thehimalayantimes.com/printNepaliNews.php?id=MjI5Njc5.)
The above-mentioned recommendations are also found in the mission to Nepal report of the Hague Conference on Private International Law [HCCH]. The mission, which took place in November 2009 under the HCCH's Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme, was prompted by the Nepali Government's April 28, 2009, signing of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. That act, the report notes, was taken as “a clear signal” that Nepal intended to become a party to the Convention. (Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme: Report of Mission to Nepal 23-27 November 2009 (Feb. 4, 2010) [Mission Report], HCCH website, available at http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf; Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, HCCH website, http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=69 (last visited Feb. 26, 2010) .)
According to the mission report, although Nepal is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), certain key principles of the CRC are not included or applied in the country's Terms and Conditions 2008 [T&C] for inter-country adoptions. In particular, it states, “[t]he principle of best interests of the child is completely absent” from the T&C and [t]here are no criteria or procedures to determine if a child is adoptable.” In addition, “[t]he subsidiarity [sic] principle is not clearly mentioned or followed; no procedures exist to find a permanent family in Nepal for a child in need,” nor do the biological parents “receive support or counselling [sic] about the legal effects of relinquishing their child for adoption … or the legal consequences of abandonment … .” In short, it found that the T&C “are not adequate as a legal framework to conduct intercountry adoptions.” (Mission Report, id. at 6-7; Notification of The Government of Nepal Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Terms and Conditions and Process for Granting Approval for Adoption of Nepali Child by Alien, 2008, 58:6 NEPAL GAZETTE (May 19, 2008), available athttp://www.mowcsw.gov.np/doc_folder/8Terms,Con.of%20adpn%20of%20Nepali%2
Among other abuses of children's rights in Nepal, the mission found that documents were regularly falsified in order to declare a child adoptable, false statements were made about a child's background and status, and transparency and accountability were lacking for the money coming into Nepal from inter-country adoptions. The mission experts called for better regulation of children's homes and a new law on adoption, among other recommendations. (Mission Report, supra.)