France has suspended international adoptions from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with effect from 1st January, 2017. France cites irregularities with adoption files as the main reason for the action.
“It is a difficult decision but one which, due to inadequate legal and ethical safeguards for adoption in that country, was deemed imperative,” a statement form the French Foreign Affairs Ministry read.
France added that even though it took into account the legitimate expectations of families wishing to adopt, it also had a duty to “as a matter of priority, ensure the best interests of the children concerned and comply with its international obligations under the Hague Convention.”
They also noted that Congolese authorities and registered adoption agencies have been informed of this decision.
“Families who have still not done so can apply for an adoption visa through the French Embassy in Kinshasa, which is at their service,” the statement concluded.
France24 reported last year that thousands of legally adopted Congolese children remained in the country because of a 2013 freeze on exit permits imposed by authorities in Kinshasa.
According to Reuters, concerns over child smuggling emerged after President Joseph Kabila suspended exit permits for adopted children from the central African nation in September 2013, causing uncertainty for hundreds of children assigned to foreign families.
The Congolese authorities said the decision was taken due to concerns and investigations over child abuse in U.S. households, but campaigners say the move has created a lucrative trade in which children are smuggled across borders for a price.