Recent reports about child adoption have exposed what is increasingly becoming modern-day slavery and child trafficking.
Kenya has emerged as a preferred hunting ground for those engaged in the supposed business of child adoption, but which is an illicit dealing that threatens the lives of hundreds of minors.
A major challenge is that the country lacks proper policy and legislation, and crooks have taken advantage of that to perpetrate trade in children.
Even more depressing is the fact that organisations legally mandated to protect children are pliant participants in their exploitation.
There is an elaborate network that involves private agencies, government officials and security teams and whose activities, though known, are never sanctioned.
For this reason, we acknowledge the Cabinet’s decision to ban foreigners from adopting children.
This should be the first step in combating illicit trade in children that has gone on for years.
But we insist that the government has to go further and do more.
It should carry out investigations to detect the vices at play under the guise of children’s protection.
Organisations responsible for the protection of children should be audited and their activities thoroughly scrutinised. Some of them have become dens for child exploitation.
A report by a task force on the review of adoption, which publicised its findings in 2017, made scary revelations.
For one, the agencies involved in child adoption were sheer racketeers making huge sums of money from unsuspecting clients.
How the adopted children were sourced was highly questionable and so were the transactions.
Illegal practices, including buying children from poor families, were rife. Even more worrying, it was not explicit what happens to the children wherever they were taken.
On paper, those adopting children promised to take care of them but, in reality, no one ever followed up once they travelled to their destinations overseas.
Although the task force recommended enactment of laws and policies to guide child adoption, nothing was ever done.
So far the only existing legislation is the Children Act 2001, which, however, spells out broad child rights and principles of taking care of them. It has its limitations.
Essentially, there is no specific policy or legislation that governs adoption. Which is the reason the Cabinet charged the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection to craft laws to guide the process. This should be done quickly.