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Madonna taken to
court over Malawi adoption

Madonna taken to
court over Malawi adoption

Malawian human rights groups went to court Friday to stop Madonna from adopting a 1-year-old Malawian boy, saying the adoption was illegal and could amount to officially sanctioned child trafficking. Malawi's High Court will hear the application by the Human Rights Consultative Committee next Friday, officials said.

Madonna, 48, has angered rights groups with her plans to adopt young David Banda, who left his native country on Tuesday for the pop diva's home in London after she was granted temporary adoption rights by Malawian authorities.

The singer, who is married to film director Guy Ritchie, hopes to make David a brother to her 10-year-old daughter, Lourdes, and son, Rocco, who is 6. She has denied cutting corners to speed the adoption process.

"We have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law like anyone else," she said in an open letter this week.

But HRCC lawyer Titus Mvalo told Reuters that Malawi forbids international adoption, even by celebrities.

"Current law bars international adoption; adoptive parents must be resident in Malawi and have to be assessed for between 18 and 24 months before the judge completes the process," Mvalo said. "We also asked the court to be part of the adoption process so that HRCC checks that no laws are flouted in the process."

Banda will stay abroad with Madonna for 18 months and be monitored by Malawian officials before final approval can be given for him to officially join her family.

Madonna has said she wants to give Banda a better life than he would have had at the orphanage where he lived since shortly after his birth, but activists accuse her of using her fame to bypass Malawian law.

The HRCC, comprising some 67 human rights groups, has said it is not against the adoption of the child but they want the laws to be followed.

Undule Mwakasugura, executive director for HRCC, told Reuters they went to court because laws were flouted that resulted in the fast-tracking of the process for Madonna. "Our concern is that government may set a precedent that can legalize child trafficking. Crooks may jump on this and abuse our children," he said.

Alan Chinula, a lawyer representing Madonna, told Reuters that all legal aspects were followed to allow the singer to get the interim order. "Madonna broke no law," he said.

The activists have decided to go ahead despite statements from David's father, Yohane Banda, supporting his son's adoption. "This is our child, and we made the decision that Madonna take him because we wish him a good life. No one will stop that," Yohane Banda told Reuters earlier this week. (Reuters)

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