The Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi has announced that the government will be tightening laws around the adoptions of young Samoan citizens by their overseas relatives.
This comes after claims that adopted children from Samoa are being exploited by their families overseas.
Allegations such as family members using the adopted children from Samoa as leverage to receive government’s benefits in those countries has sparked an urgent review of the entire process. Other claims compare the children’s treatment by their families to ‘kavigi’s’ or ‘slave labourers’ in their adopted homes.
The Prime Minister is initiating tougher measures to ensure that the innocent children who are adopted by their Samoan relatives overseas are not being exploited.
He believes that laws such as the strict monitoring of international adoptions of Samoa children by non-Samoan citizens (and who are not related to the child), should also be applied to Samoan citizens who adopt children too.
“Under our current laws, there are compulsory requirements for any overseas adopting parents of a Samoan child to fulfill before they can be approved,” he says.
“This includes a check and certificate of approval from the Attorney General… adoptive parents must meet the profile requirement which includes a clean criminal record and show evidence that they can support the child if adopted.”
He adds that Samoans living overseas requesting adoption of a Samoa minor are normally exempted from these requirements as they are treated as Samoan citizens living overseas and not international adopting parents.
“That is the legal loophole which I have instructed the Attorney General to look into and draft appropriate amendments to the law to ensure that the safety and well being of our adopted children is not compromised, leaving them at the mercy of the people exploiting them.”
Minister Tuilaepa says he has been informed personally of instances where Samoan children have been taken overseas by family members and have been used as slave labourers and subject to other abuse. It’s this treatment, he says, that contradicts the purpose of adoptions which seek to improve one’s quality of life.
“This is part and parcel of concerns about the general threat of people-smuggling and exploitation that is now rife in the international arena.
“We must be alert to these international threats and it starts with the protection of our own people being adopted by those living overseas.”