Australia concerned at trafficking in Indian children

August 23rd, 2008 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 22 (IANS) Australia Friday expressed concern at and offered to assist with investigations into claims that “pretty” children kidnapped from Indian slums have been adopted by families in this country.”I am aware of allegations regarding child trafficking and share concerns for the safety of children adopted from overseas. I have asked my department to make direct contact with the Indian authorities and provide me with a brief on any potential legal issues arising in India and Australia”, Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland said.

“I will ensure that any matters arising are duly acted upon by my department and, where relevant, are passed on for states and territories to implement”, McClelland added.

According to a report in TIME Magazine, at least 120 children were kidnapped from slums in southern India and sold to a Chennai-based adoption agency Malaysian Social Services (MSS) for as little as $280 before being sent overseas. Nearly a dozen of these children have ended up being adopted in Australia.

According to the magazine, Indian mother Fatima, whose two-year-old daughter Zabeen was allegedly kidnapped seven years ago, was discovered by police in India to have been processed by MSS, with the girl adopted by a family in the state of Queensland.

Queensland Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech told the Australian Associated Press: “This is a terrible predicament for a family who loves their adoptive children. Adoption Services Queensland (ASQ) will offer any assistance it can to Indian, federal and state agencies investigating the claims.”

“We were not aware of the child kidnap allegations until last year. Adoption Services Queensland conducted an audit of Indian children who were adopted into Queensland between 1995 and 2007. Only two of the 23 adoptions were found to be processed through MSS,” Keech added.

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