US pop star Madonna has won the right to adopt a second child from Malawi after the country's Supreme Court overturned a lower court ban. Madonna's adoption bid has been criticised by local rights groups.
AFP - Malawi's highest court Friday granted American pop icon Madonna the right to adopt a second child from the impoverished southern African nation.
"In our view, Chifundo James is better taken care of by being adopted by foreign parents who will give her love and affection," said Supreme court Chief Justice Lovemore Munro.
During the 90-minute court session, he said Madonna was financially stable and could care for three-year-old Chifundo James, whose name translates as "Mercy".
"We therefore grant adoption," he added.
The 50-year-old singer was not in the country to hear the verdict, although she had attended the initial application in April, which was blocked by a lower court on the grounds that she had failed to meet an 18-month residency requirement.
Normally anyone seeking to adopt in Malawi must live in the country for at least 18 months -- a requirement waived in the case of her first Malawian child, David Banda in 2006
According to the judge, the court had taken the child's best interest as paramount consideration when granting the adoption.
The application had been met by fierce criticism by child welfare groups and rights activists who were opposed to the singer's efforts to take another child away from the country.
They argued that international adoption should be viewed as a last resort, even though Malawi is home to an estimated 560,000 children who have lost at least one parent to AIDS.
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.
In April, the recently-divorced singer and actress jetted into the country to file for the adoption of James who was placed at an orphanage following the death of her mother.
A 24-year-old man believed to be Chifundo's father, James Kambewa has opposed the adoption, saying he was capable of looking after the child.
But the court said the identity of Chifundo's biological father was not known.
Banda's father has supported the adoption, saying he was "happy" about the prospect of his child growing up together with another Malawian.
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.
Rights groups, led by the Human Rights Consultative Committee, a coalition of 85 groups, have objected that the impoverished southern African state does not have a law on inter-country adoptions.
Date created : 2009-06-12