Response to the Zembla television programme regarding adoptions from Sri Lanka

In its broadcast of 20 September last, the Zembla television programme reported on abuses with regard to adoption procedures in Sri Lanka.

The State Secretary for Security and Justice regrets that certain individuals appear to have had other interests at heart than those of the child, which would be better served by the provision of details such as the child's identity and parentage. It is conceivable that those adopted as children may be deeply affected by the findings in Sri Lanka and desire clarity about their background and adoption procedure.

Thorough procedures are of the utmost importance, which is why adoption legislation has been tightened significantly over the years. Further measures to this effect have been set out in the letter dated 31 January 2017. However, the same letter makes plain that these measures do not entirely preclude future irregularities. The new government will discuss the future of intercountry adoptions with the House of Representatives in due course.

At the time when the aforementioned adoptions from Sri Lanka took place, the legislation in force was less adequate than it is today. Moreover, the adoption procedures that were followed differ from the current ones due to changes in the various responsibilities and duties.

In the meantime, both the Netherlands and Sri Lanka have acceded to the Hague Adoption Convention, which provides additional safeguards. Among other things, all adoption cases must now be approved explicitly by both Central Authorities, subject to a thorough verification of adoption documents. Nevertheless, irregularities can unfortunately never be eliminated entirely.

The State Secretary has ordered an investigation into the roles and responsibilities in the adoption process at the time, as well as how legislation was enforced and which organisations and individuals were generally involved. In addition, he will discuss the matter with a number of relevant organisations and contact the Sri Lankan authorities. Based on the outcome of these discussions, the Dutch government will decide whether to take further action.