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Belgium pleads with Museveni on adoption

President Museveni

Belgian authorities have urged President Museveni to relax Uganda’s tough child adoption laws.

Didier Reynders, the Belgium vice prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, made the plea in a meeting with President Museveni at the sidelines of the 71st UN general assembly in New York last week.

According to a law passed in March, guardianship of orphaned or needy children is restricted to Ugandan nationals. The law was enacted to protect Ugandan children from trafficking and sexual exploitation.

It also requires foreign adoptive parents to stay at least one year in Uganda before qualifying to adopt children.

This was a response to complaints that the Ugandan system allowed foreigners to quickly obtain legal guardianship of a child and finalize the adoption process from overseas.

Reynders said several Belgian foster parents are caught up in a deadlock between the Belgian embassy and the Flemish Centre for Adoption (Kind en Gezin), that facilitated adoptions before the law was enacted. The case drew in the Belgium government with the prime minister pledging to follow up the case.

The Flemish Centre for Adoption reported that the Belgian embassy in Kampala refused entry visas to nine parents, who wanted to leave with 10 adopted children from Kampala.

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