The recently publicised cases of Slovak families losing their children to the United Kingdom social services has led the government Human rights committee to audit the Centre for International Legal Protection of Children (CILPC) and hopefully unravel the full scale of the problem, with some curious findings.
Figures cited by SME daily talk about over 300 Slovak children who have been put up for adoption abroad in the past ten years, but not just in the UK. These cases of cross-border adoptions had to be given the green light by CILPC. The government human rights committee has therefore been auditing the work of CILPC, which has had to face criticism over its inactivity or slow reaction in the UK cases, as it could have requested the return of the children to Slovakia.
In all, it seems that about 100 children were sent to their new fates without the cases firstly being examined by a committee, while there were 357 cases of cross-border adoption (106 being questioned). Older cases from before 2002 remain a mystery as the records have been lost or deliberately destroyed.
Regarding the UK cases, SME cites some 50 cases of Slovak children being taken by Social Services, where CILPC did not request that they be sent back to Slovakia. The centre is the only body that can approve cross-border adoptions and enter processes where Slovak children are involved, but now it appears that officers at the centre were using a loophole to finalise cases without a commission examining them.
Another point is that Slovak children should only be put up for adoption abroad if there are no suitable families found in Slovakia, a principle that Lucia Nicholsonova from the SaS party claims has not been respected. It seems the large majority of the children were shipped off to Italy, with no or little follow-up by the CILPC as to where the children actually ended up. Nicholsonova is therefore planning to lodge criminal charges on suspicion of trading in children.
The new head of the CILPC, Andrea Cisarova (since this summer), is also keenly awaiting the full results of the audit, which will hopefully explain what happened to the records from before 2002 and why have so many Slovak children end up in Italy. Given all the recent revelations and accusations, many feel something dubious is taking place, while others have faith in the system and reject outright that such atrocities could ever take place here in our civilised Europe. The child’s best interests are maybe not always the primary motivating factor, however, and so families continue to be split apart, with or without legitimacy.