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Africa

Madonna appeals after Malawi court rejects adoption bid

Video by Richard TOMPSETT

Latest update : 2009-04-04

Pop diva Madonna has launched an appeal after a Malawian court rejected her request to adopt, for the second time, a three-year-old girl. The judge said a ruling in her favour could open the door to trafficking in children.

AFP - Madonna on Friday filed a notice to appeal a failed bid to adopt a second child from Malawi, after the High Court warned that the case could open the door to trafficking in children.
  
Hearings on the appeal are expected to start next week after the court on Friday turned down the US pop diva's request to adopt a three-year-girl who would have become a sibling to another adopted Malawian toddler.
  
"I have filed a notice of appeal," her lawyer Alan Chinula told AFP.
  
The appeal notice was filed on Friday after Madonna, 50, was briefed about the outcome of the adoption application, Chinula said.
  
Madonna did not attend the earlier closed-door court hearing where Judge Esmie Chondo addressed concerns among rights groups that Malawi's courts could inadertently expose the nation's children to the threat of human traffickers.
  
"I must confess that there's a gripping temptation to throw caution to the wind and grant an adoption in the hope that there will be a difference in the  life of just one child," Chondo said.
  
"By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals," she added.
  
"I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna," Chondo said.
  
Normally anyone seeking to adopt in Malawi must have been resident in the country for at least 18 months -- a requirement the judge called the "bedrock" of adoption petitions, but which was waived in the case of David Banda.
  
The recently-divorced singer and actress jetted into the southern African state on Sunday accompanied by 12-year-old daughter Lourdes and three-year-old Banda, whom she adopted in 2006 after seeing him in a Malawian orphanage.
  
The following day she filed her application to adopt Chifundo "Mercy" James, sparking fresh controversy over foreign adoptions. Her lawyer has insisted the law had been followed to the letter.
  
The judge also noted that Chifundo had been placed in one of Malawi's best orphanages, and no longer suffers the grinding poverty endured after her mother died in childbirth.
  
"It should be borne in mind that inter-country adoptions may not be and are not the only solution," the judge added.
  
Maxwell Matewere, who heads the child rights group Eye of the Child, welcomed the ruling. His group was among 85 organisations that have lobbied against international adoptions.
  
"This should send a message to the world that Malawi is a country with laws and procedures ... that have to be respected," he said.
  
"If Madonna is concerned with the plight of orphans, she must demonstrate that by investing more in projects that would care for children in their own environment."
  
Malawi is one of the world's poorest nations, with more than half of the population of 12 million living on less than one dollar a day. The singer has a personal fortune estimated at several hundred million dollars.
  
Madonna has set up a charity, Raising Malawi, which provides support for orphans and vulnerable children.
  
She has already built a multi-purpose community centre at Mphandula village, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Lilongwe, which looks after more than 8,000 orphans from scores of villages in the area.
  
During her current visit, David Banda met with his biological father, who had placed him in an orphanage where Madonna first met the child.
  
The singer, synonymous with hits "Material Girl" and "Like A Virgin", has been in the news recently because of her divorce from British film director Guy Ritchie, with whom she has a son Rocco, now aged eight.
  
Her daughter Lourdes comes from another relationship.
 

Date created : 2009-04-03

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