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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, even music are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. Faith Lapidus narrates a report from VOA’s June Soh.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid