UK suspends Cambodian child adoptions
4.37PM, Tue Jun 22 2004
Evidence on the illegal baby trade in Cambodia uncovered by ITV News correspondent John Irvine has led the British Government to suspend all adoptions of Cambodian children with immediate effect.
Children’s Minister Margaret Hodge MP told the ITV News Channel: “It is the first time that the Government has had to take action to suspend adoptions from a country.
"But as your report showed […] there was child trafficking as a route to adoption with mothers either being forced to give up their children for payment or choosing to give up their children for payment.”
The exclusive report by Asia Correspondent John Irvine first aired on the ITV Evening News on 24 March 2004.
He uncovered crucial evidence of mothers selling their babies to local scouts for as little as £15, and these then teaming up with orphanages which provide children for lucrative adoptions in the West.
The report highlighted that rampant corruption within the Cambodian adoption trade made it almost impossible to know under what circumstances children are parted from their mother.
With almost no legislation in place, it is easy and relatively risk-free for traffickers to capitalise on the country’s abject poverty.
Some countries - including the US - had already decided to suspended adoptions from Cambodia altogether.
But at the time of the ITV News report, the UK had no plans to do so.
Margaret Hodge told the ITV News Channel: “There do appear to be pretty widespread systems in place on a huge number of so-called orphanages where these children are found so that there is no way that one can track their birth mothers.
"And then people who run the orphanages often also are the same people who arrange the adoptions of children to countries abroad.
"We have found no actual proof [but] I was alerted to this problem at an early stage by the film and the work that you yourselves had done, and John Irvine had done on his trip to Cambodia.”
John Irvine said: “I am glad that the Government has responded to the facts on the ground in Cambodia.
"The UK found itself out of step with other nations like the US and France who were concerned enough to stop adoption from Cambodia some time ago.
"No country in good conscience can in any way - unwittingly or not - help facilitate a trade whereby a mother can sell her baby for the equivalent of £15.”