27 November 2007

Kenya: Child Trade Probe Launched

London — Kenya is investigating what it calls an "intricate child trafficking syndicate" involving some Kenyans and foreigners.

As part of the investigations, the Government has moved to a UK court seeking to overturn a decision by a British couple to adopt a three-year-old girl illegally spirited out of Kenya in July last year.

Investigations by a Government agency show that Huruma Children's Home in Ngong broke the law in handling the girl that the British government has now taken from the adopted parents.

The Northumberland County Council has told the British couple that they cannot keep the child because they did not follow Kenyan laws to get her under their care.

Mr Nigel Eric Bird and Miss Gillian Stafford were found to be living with the child illegally.

The council's lawyer said the legal requirements in Kenya for adoption by foreign and unmarried couples would not have allowed Mr Bird and Ms Stafford to adopt the child.

Returned home

And yesterday, the Kenyan Government sent Mr Leonard Boiyo, a first secretary at the High Commission in London, to a court in Newcastle to represent it in the case seeking to have the girl returned home.

Mr Boiyo said: "It is our opinion that the right procedure for adopting the child was not followed and therefore it is illegal for her to remain here."

Investigations by the Vice-President's office established that there was an "intricate web" where an Immigration ministry official illegally assists people who want to adopt children after they pay Sh100,000.

Mr Bird and Ms Stafford explained to the Northumberland County Council that they made arrangements with the owner of Huruma Children's Home, Mrs Zipporah Kamau, to have the child taken to the UK.

Visited children's home

However, when officers from the Children's Department visited the children's home to conduct investigations, Mrs Kamau denied the allegations.

She said the child was taken to the UK in her absence and under mysterious circumstances. The three-year old was taken to the UK on an illegal working visa.

But a letter from the Director of Children's Services said: "It is evident the child left Kenya illegally. The due process of the law for adoption was not followed in placing the child with Mr Bird and Ms Stafford."

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