Press release - 376(2011)

Adoptions must always serve the best interest of the child

Strasbourg, 28.04.2011 – “Member states should ensure a better protection of children in the adoption process. In spite of international agreements, the realities of adoption still vary widely among European countries giving raise to serious human rights concerns”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, releasing today an Issue Paper on the human rights perspective of adoption of children.

The Issue Paper addresses a number of issues including the need for procedural safeguards to ensure that all actors involved in the process of adoption fully respect children’s rights.

The Commissioner recommends that intercountry adoptions take place only when adequate domestic alternatives do not exist and within agreed international legal frameworks. He calls for stricter rules for accreditation of adoption agencies and an explicit ban of non-regulated and private adoptions from any country of origin. Moreover, the Commissioner recommends adopting measures to prevent any risk of children becoming stateless in the intercountry adoption process and to combat the dissemination of false information by providing accurate information on intercountry adoptions.

The Commissioner calls for particular care on adoption in the immediate aftermath of disaster situations in order to prevent potential abuses and violations of international obligations. “Although this principle has been generally followed by European receiving countries in recent years, the adoptions of Haitians after the January 2010 earthquake demonstrated the fragility of its application. It is vital to learn from that experience in order to safeguard the rights of children in any future disaster situation and adopt a particularly vigilant approach to ensure compliance with international standards.”

Press contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 (0)6 61 14 70 37;
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