Botswana’s laws on adoption are incoherent with the African Charter on the rights and welfare of a child, says Musa Chibwana, a representative of the Child Rights Network for Southern Africa (CRNSA). Chibwana arrived in Botswana this week as part of a panel that was convened to listen to the testimonies of the parents of a six year old child who was adopted by one Deborah Jan Kistern-Mey without the consent of her biological father.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of the testimonial hearing, Chibwana said they are working with the SADC to come up with a Children’s protocol that would ensure that all countries in the region have laws that are in consonance with the African Charter on the rights and welfare of a child and the United Nations convention on the rights of a child. He added that the 1952 Adoption Law that Botswana is still stuck with is not progressive.
“Issues like this one need to be addressed. One way to address the issue is through the SADC by coming up with a children’s protocol that every country must adhere to,” he said.
Cindy Kelemi, Director of Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV-AIDS (BONELA) said her organisation will embark on a national campaign to sensitize Batswana about adoption issues. She added that the unfortunate incident involving the six year old child could have been avoided if the parents knew what they were getting themselves into.
“In this case the mother did not know anything about adoption and she relied too much on the adoptee, the very same person she was supposed to engage in terms of agreement. This case is one of a kind and we are aware that lawfully there is nothing we can do. That is why the parents are now appealing to President Ian Khama to ask if he can’t intervene and help to bring the child back. We are left with no options except to use this case to prevent similar incidents in the future,” she said.
Social Workers from Boteti sub-District Council approached lawyer Uyapo Ndadi of Ndadi law firm to assist with the case. Their view was that the courts did not provide enough time for the transition to be handled properly.
“It will not be in the best interest of the child to transfer her from the custody of her father and place her on the hands of the adoptee mother without ensuring that her emotional needs were taken care of and that she was well prepared for her new life. The best interests of the child are key when it comes to such issues. Here we are not dealing with property, but with human who have emotions,” said Ndadi.
The parents of the six year old, Annah Kopo and Joshua July, on Monday instructed Ndadi to approach the High Court for declaratory orders confirming that the manner in which the child was removed from her biological parents was unlawful, insensitive and not in her best interests.