News 09 Feb 12

Macedonia Sacks Suspected Adoption Racketeers

Macedonian Social Affairs Minister has fired or suspended a number of welfare officials following a probe into an alleged adoption racket.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Skopje
 

Minister Spiro Ristovski has sacked the heads of welfare centres in the towns of Radovish and Krushevo, suspended 28 welfare ministry employees and has proposed the sackings of five others.

“Pressing criminal charges is still a possibility,” Ristovski warned on Wednesday, adding that the probe he initiated will continue.

Last November the ministry and police launched a major investigation into the adoption process in the country. This followed allegations that some adoption officials were effectively selling off babies.

Declining to reveal exact details, the Minister said the inspection had uncovered “certain weaknesses and inconsistencies in following the law”.
 
A local NGO, “Building the Future”, which works for orphans' rights, in November voiced suspicions that a crime chain had become well established in the adoption system.

It said it believed officials were selling orphans for fees varying from 5,000 to 60,000 euros per child.

The same month, encouraged by the ministry’s probe, testimonies appeared in the media from some families who believe their babies were falsely pronounced dead in order for them to be sold.

According to official records, only about 40 children were adopted in Macedonia last year, which is far too few to meet the demand. Some 300 couples have applied to adopt.

The ministry says that since the probe begun they have unclogged the stalled process and that in only two months, in December and January, they managed to match last year's total number of adoptions.

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