Wednesday, May 4, 2011

CICIG'S Report on Players Involved in the Illegal Adoption Process in Guatemala since the Entry into Force of the Adoption Law

CICIG Report on on Players Involved in the Illegal Adoption Process in Guatemala since the Entry into Force of the Adoption Law is now available in English.


Latin America is one of the most unequal regions in the world, with one of the highest rates of violence, which affects mainly women and children. In Guatemala, people aged 0-17 represent more than half the total population.

Although significant progress has been made, Guatemala has not been able to ensure that children can live free from violence and protected against all forms of abuse or exploitation. Impunity, and thus violence, are marking the lives of children and adolescents in Guatemala.
For years, many children have been stolen, missing and/or kidnapped for trafficking under the irregular guise of adoption; their mothers were threatened, deceived or even punished in their communities. An example of the consequences of impunity is the fact that in 2007, 60% of lynchings in Guatemala concerned alleged abductions of children.

This problem is one of the main concerns of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym as CICIG).

That was precisely why, to support the considerable efforts made by UNICEF in this area, the “Agreement for Cooperation on Studies on Children and Adolescents” was signed to continue supporting the work of UNICEF and institutions responsible for child protection and investigation of crimes committed against children and adolescents in connection with Guatemalan clandestine organizations and illegal security bodies.

That is the context of this study. It sets out the results of investigations conducted by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of all domestic and inter-country adoption proceedings conducted during the transition period that started on 31 December 2007 with the entry into force of the Adoption Law and of the first ones processed under the regulations of the new law. The Adoption Law of Guatemala contains the principles enshrined the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Convention), ratified by Guatemala.

Reducing violence and impunity in this type of crimes requires not only strong political will in the criminal and investigative area, but also that this will be exercised by all the institutions responsible for the comprehensive protection of children and adolescents.

That is why CICIG presents specific recommendations and hopes that they will be followed in keeping with the national and international obligations of each State institution in charge of the comprehensive protection system in favor of Guatemalan children and adolescents.
Finally, I thank all the officials of Guatemalan institutions who cooperated with CICIG by providing information for this study and thank all my colleagues at the International Commission against Impunity who worked with great professionalism and commitment in the preparation of this report. Guatemala deserves a country worthy of its children, without violence and with institutions that can be trusted.

After publication of this document, Prensa Libre reported on April 26, 2011 that Senator Mary Landrieu called into question the legitimacy of the reports finding. In repsonse, CICIG published the following press release demanding an explanation from Senator Landrieu:



During her visit to Guatemala, the Senator met with various authorities responsible for child protection and manifested her disagreement with the CICIG´s report on criminal structures involved in illegal adoptions.

Guatemala, 27 April 2011. The Guatemalan media edition of Prensa Libre, dated 26 April 2011 (pages 4 and 5), published a story about the visit of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu which reads: “Landrieu said she does not share all of CICIG´s findings presented in a report in late 2010, detailing abnormalities in the adoption processes which are still in transition between the previous and the current law.”

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala publicly requests Senator Landrieu to provide evidence to the Guatemalan society on which she bases her comments to disqualify the content of the “Report on actors involved in the process of illegal adoptions in Guatemala.” She was also invited to explain to the Guatemalan society her position concerning the numerous adoptions of children illegally taken away from their biological parents.

CICIG informs the public opinion that the report is a result of the work of a team of professional experts who analyzed for 18 months over 3,342 notarial notices from the records of the Attorney General’s Office (PGN) related to adoption processes: 1,412 issued by the PGN and the National Council on Adoptions (CNA); 879 requests and protection measure processes from the Youth and Children Courts; and 153 declarations of adoptability issued by the Courts of Children and Adolescents. Furthermore, more than 50 criminal investigations conducted by the Public Ministry (MP) were analyzed in relation to the crime of trafficking in persons for illegal adoption.

From the analysis of the data gathered, it was found that over 60% of the processes for adoption contained abnormalities such as theft and illegal purchase/sale of children, threats and deception to biological mothers, and forgery of documents to carry out “adoption processes” both before and after the entry into force of the Adoption Law (31 December 2007). In many cases there are multiple and clear indications that the illegal procedures were promoted by transnational organized crime who acted along with the participation or acquiescence of state officials. Currently, the Public Ministry investigates more than 325 adoption processes which present serious irregularities.

In its report, the CICIG is able to determine the modus operandi of transnational organized crime networks involved in trafficking of children through illegal adoptions. Since that report, the CICIG was also able to determine that an international adoption in Guatemala, rather than representing a way of procuring a family to an unprotected child, often has become a mechanism for delivering children to those who request and pay, turning such institution into a lucrative form of human trafficking which is an offense under the Penal Code in Guatemala.

Among the many findings stated in the CICIG report, it is established that only 10% of Guatemalan children who were placed for adoption between 2007 and 2010 were in an orphaned or abandoned situation.

Moreover, specific cases were identified in which the representatives and/or facilitators of international adoption agencies in Guatemala were aware of the illicit origin of the children placed for adoption and yet continued illegal processes through altered DNA tests, deception and threats to biological mothers, and the use of forged documents.

CICIG supports that the international adoptions are an option of life for those children who need it. However, given that the pending processes have serious irregularities, CICIG supports the position of PGN, CNA and MP – competent institutions on the issue – and in particular promotes that each adoption process approved individually, as a minimum, should establish the following: (1) lawful origin of the child; (2) ratification of the biological mother´s consent; (3) determination of paternity through DNA testing; and (4) veracity of the identity of the child and the mother.

CICIG reiterates its firm commitment to continue supporting the Guatemalan institutions, including the Attorney General’s Office, the National Council on Adoptions and the Public Ministry, in its fight to eradicate illegal adoptions and to combat impunity.

An excellent analysis of the situation can be found at REFORM Talk Blog:

Editorial Note: Yesterday's publication of this blog mistakenly omitted the text of CICIG Press Release which was added 5/5/2011

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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