‘Urgent need’ for probe of forced adoption

A United Nations special rapporteur has said there is an urgent need for a comprehensive examination of forced and illegal adoptions here and warned the State’s investigation into mother and baby homes “is not broad enough to uncover the full scale of illegal adoptions”.

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio found significant issues with the “limited scope” of the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes.

Ms de Boer-Buquicchio, the special rapporteur on the sale and exploitation of children, has also claimed there is “a culture of silence” in Ireland around issues of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.

She said there was limited data on child abuse, and what was available “cannot clarify the number of cases of sex abuse and exploitation of children that make it to court and their outcomes”.

The special rapporteur visited Ireland for a week last May, when she met government representatives, Tusla, gardaí and others.

According to her report: “Ireland has made progress in recent years to prevent and respond to circumstances constituting sale or sexual exploitation of children, particularly in the areas of child marriage and ICT-related sexual exploitation.

“However, enough has not been done to provide information, accountability and redress to those who suffered abuse in the past in institutions and to those who were adopted in a manner that would amount to sale of children under international law.”

Ms de Boer-Buquicchio said there are historical precedents of illegal and irregular adoptions here “that impact the situation today” before going on to reference mother and baby homes.

Her report says:

It has been regularly reported that adoptions were made against the wishes of the natural mothers, or through the deception of those mothers in order to get their consent. Birth records were also falsified.

As for the work of the commission, Ms de Boer-Buquicchio said she was concerned the investigation “is not broad enough to uncover the full scale of illegal adoptions, which still affect Irish citizens today”.

“The Special Rapporteur has met with individuals who have approached religious orders and the courts in order to receive identity and background records as well as information on possible siblings, who were and still are systematically denied this information,” the report said.

“Meanwhile those affected are advancing in age, so the need for a comprehensive national examination of forced and illegal adoptions is urgent. Failure to provide information, redress and justice for these human rights abuses perpetuates the harm to the victims.”

The report also branched out into other areas, from the need to improve sex education for children to the lack of legislation to criminalise child erotica.

It makes a raft of recommendations, including:

Ireland carry out a “comprehensive national examination of forced and illegal adoptions, including audits of records in the hands of the State, while ensuring that individuals whose birth records were falsified have access to information and redress;

There be a full investigation into the human rights violations and abuses connected with Magdalene laundries — that “all children have access to comprehensive sexual education that is compulsory and based in scientific evidence to dispel incorrect and harmful messages about sexuality received by children online and elsewhere.

The special rapporteur also expressed concern that the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Services unit (CASATS) is the only specialised forensic examination unit for victims of sexual abuse under age 14, while there are six such centres for older children and adults. The report said there was “a lack of a dedicated and integrated strategy to respond to sexual violence against children”.

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