NGO in court for ‘child trafficking’


About 50 children were given up for adoption without official sanction.

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court on Wednesday took strong exception to a Gilgit-based NGO Sina Health and Welfare society accused of sending nearly 50 children abroad for adoption over the years without fulfilling legal formalities. The children were sent without birth certificates.

The two-member bench, comprising Chief Judge Justice Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob, heard the suo motu case that was brought to the court’s notice by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

The NGO was represented by a senior lawyer and the chairman of the NGO, Sher Baz, also attended the hearing. Nadra was represented by an official of its legal affairs department and the police department was represented by DIG police Farman Ali.

The lawyer representing the NGO told the apex court that the organisation had been involved with this humanitarian issue over the past 15 years and that so far, it had placed 103 children, including orphans and abandoned children from Gilgit-Baltistan, under the United Nations convention on child rights.

He said that at present, one child had been adopted by a family in the UK, eight in the US and about 40 in Canada. The chief judge asked the Nadra representative to verify the whereabouts of these children.

The advocate said that whenever the NGO received an abandoned child, they report the case to the police and provide shelter to the child before giving them up for adoption. When the judge asked how many babies they had received so far, the advocate answered in vague terms, saying ‘some’.

The DIG police denied any knowledge of the NGO and said that he had not received any report from them about abandoned children, when he was asked by court to confirm the NGO’s statements.

Justice Abbasi remarked that developed countries had adoption laws and said: “We will have to see if our courts allow such adoption methods.”

The Nadra representative said that birth certificates of the children adopted by foreigners had been sent abroad without official sanction. The chief judge said that this was an offence.

The NGO’s advocate said that the NGO keeps a track and that they have maintained a record of all adoptions. The chief justice asked them to submit complete data before the court by the end of the month.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2010.