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27 Jun, 2013 10:46

Ban on US adoptions 'won’t be canceled or altered'

Ban on US adoptions 'won’t be canceled or altered'

Russia and the US will continue cooperation in the field of adoption, but the ban imposed last year will remain in place, presidential plenipotentiary for children’s rights has said.

Pavel Astakhov talked to journalists in Washington, DC, on Wednesday after another round of Russia-US bilateral talks on problems of cross-border adoptions and Russian children’s rights.

“Speculation often appears around the law on US adoptions and often it is about the possibility of a retreat, about the alteration or even cancelation of the law that is already in force. Such suggestions would not be approved and they would not been considered. The law was passed, it will not be changed or altered,” Astakhov told reporters.

However, the ombudsman noted that Russia and the United States had agreed to work together on the joint database of adopted children and initial procedures of this project had already started. Russia is currently engaged in merging its regional adoption databases into a joint federal one, Astakhov said, adding that the US specialists were welcome to study the Russian experience.

Astakhov said that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency lists about 61,000 adopted Russian children in the country, while Russian consular services have only 37,338 adopted children on their US lists. Moreover, the Russian Education and Science Ministry (the body in charge of orphans in Russia) says that over 40,000 kids had gone to the United States. The ombudsman said it was obvious that the figures did not match and the joint database could be a solution.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed official from the US Department of State as saying that the US side would continue to encourage the resolution of all adoptions that were in process prior to the ban “in the spirit of our bilateral agreement and based on humanitarian grounds.”

Washington remains “ready to continue discussions with Russia on inter-country adoptions and the welfare of children adopted from Russia, and [we] have agreed to consult regularly going forward,” the State Department official added.

Russia banned all adoptions of Russian children by US citizens and by proxy of US organizations as part of the so called Dima Yakovlev Law – a broader act seeking to impose sanctions on US officials suspected of Human Rights violations. Critics of the law said that it deprived thousands of kids, many of them ill or disabled, of a chance for a better life. The sponsors of the bill pointed at cases of cruel treatment or even manslaughter that happened with adopted Russian children in the United States and also the complete unwillingness of the US authorities to cooperate with Russia in the investigation of such cases.

The US side usually quotes state laws that do not demand that local police cooperate with diplomats of a foreign country.

After the ban came into force, Russia started introducing changes to its internal legislation on adoptions, increasing allowances and generally simplifying the procedure.