News / Africa

    Sierra Leone Parents Say Children Adopted Without Consent

    People attend court to hear charges against the agency that handled adoptions, (Nina deVries/VOA)
    People attend court to hear charges against the agency that handled adoptions, (Nina deVries/VOA)
    FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — For years, parents in the West African nation of Sierra Leone have claimed their children were adopted without their consent during the country's civil war in the 1990s.  A police investigation was concluded recently regarding their claims. And staff from the agency that handled the adoptions have been charged with 32 counts, including human trafficking.  

    "Whenever I go to bed I see their faces, whatever I'm doing, normally my mind will drop to them," said Abu Bakar Kargbo as he recalled his two siblings who were allegedly adopted illegally.

    For 15 years he has been determined to find out where they are and let them know it was never the intent of their parents to give them up.

    He is also the spokesperson for 29 other parents who claim they never gave up their children.

    The parents say they left them at the Help A Needy Child International Center, or HANCI, during the war temporarily, so they would be safe and receive education.   

    HANCI then apparently contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services, which placed 29 children with parents in the United States.

    Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
    x
    Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
    Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
    Kamba Mansaray explains in her native Krio language that she is glad the five staff members from HANCI were charged.  

    She says she hasn't seen her children Adama and Mustapha for 15 years.  And would just love just to hold them again.

    Roland Wright is a lawyer representing the HANCI staff. He says a preliminary investigation will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to bring the matter to trial.

    According to Wright, the HANCI staff did everything legally. And the parents who handed over the children to HANCI knew that. "It was known and quite clearly established that any child that went there was a potential adoption case," he explained.

    He is confident HANCI will be proven innocent.

    This isn't the first time the agency has been charged.  Back in 2004 several members from HANCI were charged with violation of adoption laws but the matter was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

    Anti-trafficking organizations in Freetown are also feeling the effects of the HANCI case.

    Janet Nickel works as a technical advisor for an anti-trafficking program with World Hope International.  She says communities they work with are confusing adoption and trafficking.  They think it means the same thing.

    Nickel explains some do not realize that trafficking involves exploitation. "So you explain that and then people say oh yes, that is happening, it's going on in our community and they can start naming cases where somebody has been exploited but they never thought of it as trafficking, as they thought trafficking is adoption," she stated.

    She also questions if the trafficking charges are even accurate. "If there's no exploitation, if it's not for criminal purpose, it doesn't fit the definition of child trafficking," she added.

    No one from the police unit was available to comment on their report and if they found evidence of exploitation.

    Nickel adds one young woman adopted through HANCI has come back and met her biological father.  She says there is no evidence of any exploitation of the adoptee.

    Another recent report from the Associated Press says a 17-year-old woman named Michaela DePrince, also part of the HANCI adoptions, grew up to become a professional ballerina living in the United States, and travels internationally to perform.

    As for Abu Bakar Kargbo, he says he does not know of this young dancer but is searching for more answers to see if her family may still be around.

    When asked if the biological parents are seeking financial compensation, he said it's not about money.  Rather that they just want their children to know that they are alive and establish a relationship.

    In the meantime, he says he will continue to push for answers as to what really happened during the adoptions.

    The next court date is set for August 10.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora