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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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