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5 Dec, 2013 13:24

Russia launches criminal probe into online trafficking of adopted kids in US

Russia launches criminal probe into online trafficking of adopted kids in US

Russia has launched a criminal investigation into the illegal trafficking of children adopted by US citizens, the Investigative Committee has revealed.

The Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin said the case was started due to a journalistic investigation by Reuters and NBC initiated in September.

"According to investigators, illegal markets were created in the US on Yahoo and Facebook websites, on which illicit transactions concerning children adopted by US citizens were performed," he said.

He added that, following the reports, the committee had checked the information and decided to open a criminal case on human trafficking involving minors.

"Thus, among others, transactions involving 26 underage Russian citizens were made and moreover, it was established that as the result of the deals some of them were sexually abused,” Markin said.

Despite the fact that the crimes were committed outside of Russia, they were directed against Russian citizens, Markin said, adding that the investigators intend to inspect the legality of the adoption of Russian children by American families. He also noted that the Investigative Committee pays special attention to protecting the rights and legitimate interests of the children against which crimes were committed, even outside Russia.

Moscow has informed Washington DC that it was launching the criminal investigation, RIA Novosti reported. Russia’s Foreign Ministry demanded that the US bring to justice the ones responsible for violating the rights of adopted children. Moscow said it was expecting to receive a prompt response from US authorities.

In September, a Reuters investigative report revealed that a loose internet network had developed in the US whereby dissatisfied adoptive parents had used social networks to advertise and often pass off unwanted children adopted abroad with next to no government scrutiny.

The agency analyzed 5,029 posts over a five-year period on one Internet message board, a Yahoo group. According to the report, one ad for moving adopted children to different families was placed per week. Most of the children, aged from 6 to 14 years old, had been adopted from abroad. Russia, along with Ukraine, China and Ethiopia featured prominently. The youngest child was an infant of 10 months.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, told RT that moving children from one family to another without government supervision creates huge risks.

“So the risk when this is not being done right is that the child is not entering a better situation. And certainly it’s a legal matter again, whether that child is yours biologically or yours by adoption – however that child got into your family – we want legal processes in place so that the rights of those children are protected.”

The investigation found that some of the children who were adopted and subsequently moved to a different family had suffered abuse. One Russian girl who was rehoused said one boy urinated on her after the two had sex. She was 13 at the time of the incident and was moved to different families three times in six months.

Another adopted girl, from China, was sent to another family and forced to dig her own grave, Roelie Post, of the organization Against Child Trafficking, told RT.

The reason why the majority of children advertised on rehoming forums were foreign-born is because they do not fall under normal child protection measures.

“If you adopt a child from US Foster Care, I can imagine the US child protection service is still keeping eye on that and people know where to turn to. Children from foreign countries come from this what we call ‘the child market,’ it is commercial agencies who are dealing with providing children to adoptive parents and there is absolutely no oversight at all. Therefore, if parents are faced with problems, they also don’t know where to turn to,” she said.