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Lawyer on secret payments in adoption case: – Gets angry

EXPOSED SCANDAL: Farith Simon helped reveal that Ecuadorian children were adopted out of the country illegally in 1989. Photo: Espen Rasmussen / VG

QUITO (VG) Norwegian actors paid money to Ecuador. Then the demand to get a stolen child back disappeared. – An attempt to bury one’s own conscience, says the Ecuadorian lawyer.

Published:

Less than 20 minutes ago

As VG could reveal on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian association Adoption Forum gave a large sum of money to a human rights organization in Ecuador in the 90s.

VG has seen documents where it is stated that the biological family of Camilla Austbø “benefits from the help” from the organisation. Camilla was adopted to Norway after being stolen from her mother.

– Make you angry

One of those who helped expose the adoption scandal more than 30 years ago was the Ecuadorian lawyer Farith Simon.

He knows a lot about how children were stolen and adopted to Norway, but knew nothing about the Norwegian money that Camilla’s mother “enjoyed”, according to the documents.

– I can not believe it. Sometimes you get information that just makes you angry. I really can’t believe it, he says to VG.

Today, Simon is dean of the Faculty of Law at a private university in Quito. His field of expertise is human rights and children’s rights.

He is very critical of the Norwegian authorities being willing to “negotiate” about Camilla’s adoption case at all.

Photo: Espen Rasmussen / VG

– If you know this has happened, then you do something to stop it or correct the error. What you don’t do is donate money to try to make the case go away, says Simon.

Then he continues:

– This is an attempt to bury their own conscience, to make the responsibility they have disappear.

VG cannot document exactly how the money was used. But in a letter to the Ministry of Children and Families, the Norwegian association Adoption Forum writes:

“It is thanks to the Adoption Forum that [kvinnen] has a house to live in. Over the years, we have otherwise contributed to her having clothes on her body, food on the table and teeth in her mouth.”

The mother initially demanded that the adoption be annulled, so that Camilla could return home to Ecuador. But after the agreement about the money was sealed, the claim disappeared.

GOT A HOUSE: Camilla’s mother in front of her new house together with, among others, Norway’s ambassador to Chile Frode Nilsen, who was involved in the negotiations so that Camilla would not be sent back to her mother in Ecuador. Photo: PRIVATE Photo: Private / PRIVATE

Norwegian lawyer: – Important to investigate

Lawyer Kirsten Kolstad Kvalø is a senior advisor at the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (NIM), where she works in particular with children’s rights.

She reminds that Norway must follow strict international regulations for adoption, because we are affiliated to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that the best interests of the child must be the overriding consideration in all adoption cases.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits illegal child abductions and the sale and trade of children, and Norway is therefore obliged to do what we can to avoid this.

For adoptions, it is required, among other things, that the local authorities have given permission after careful assessment and strict procedural rules, and also that no one should profit financially from the adoption.

INVESTIGATION: Lawyer Kirsten Kolstad Kvalø at the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights (NIM) believes it is important to investigate cases where there is a suspicion of a violation of children’s rights. Photo: Charlotte Førde Skomsøy

Illegal adoption can also be a violation of parents’ rights, says Kvalø.

– What can or should Norway do about this now?

– Norway has been a pioneering country for children’s rights, which the current government has also stated as a priority. On a general basis, it is important to investigate cases where there is a suspicion of a violation of children’s rights, says Kvalø.

– In cases where it is suspected that something contrary to the Convention has occurred, it is important to investigate the case, document what has happened, learn from it and examine whether it is necessary to find ways to repair the violation by, for example, establishing human rights violations , says Kvalø.

Kvalø reminds that it may be necessary to investigate cases going back in time even if the children in question are no longer children.

– This is how you can find out whether individuals have been exposed to human rights violations. It can be of great importance to individuals, and you will then also be able to recognize new breaches should they arise. It can also lead to systems being established to avoid similar things happening in the future, the lawyer tells VG.

The government: Must not be able to “buy indulgences”

Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe, who is responding on behalf of the government, told VG on Saturday that she found it difficult to comment on the negotiations the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did in the matter at the time.

– Did the Norwegian authorities buy themselves out of the Camilla case?

– Yes, it can look like that, as I perceive it now. It should not be the case that one should be able to buy indulgences (forgiveness for a sinful act, ed. note) . And it may look as if that was the case here. But I don’t know all the details and assessments that were made, so it is difficult to say this completely firmly.

Pictures VG has access to show that then ambassador Frode Nilsen and leader of the Adoption Forum Ketil Lehland visited Camilla’s biological mother in the house she was given.

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN: Kjersti Toppe (Sp) Photo: Espen Rasmussen / VG

In an e-mail to VG, communications manager Tuva Bogsnes in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes to VG:

“At the time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped to try to clarify what had happened in what must have been a difficult case. This is way back in time. We therefore do not have all the details of what one must assume were difficult assessments for those affected and for the authorities at the time – both in Norway and Ecuador.”

Furthermore, Bogsnes writes:

“According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ archives, 30 years ago Norway supported the Latin American human rights organization ALDHU, in connection with an Ecuadorian child protection project. The support was for the upgrading of three regional children’s courts and a series of seminars at the children’s courts and child protection institutions on the importance of reducing the processing time in child protection and adoption cases.”

General Manager Nina Wang of Adoption Forum points out that the matter goes back a long way, and that those who worked there at the time no longer do so. In an e-mail, she writes that she has no reason to doubt “the claims presented in the case of Camilla Austbø”.

She also emphasizes that the Adoption Forum neither in Norway nor abroad has the authority to conduct an investigation.

Adoption Forum has not wanted to be interviewed in this case. General manager Nina Wang points out that the matter goes back a long way, and that those who worked there at the time no longer do so. In an e-mail, she writes that she has no reason to doubt “the claims presented in the case of Camilla Austbø”.

She also emphasizes that the Adoption Forum neither in Norway nor abroad has the authority to conduct an investigation.

Published:

Published: 16.01.23 at 14:09

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Lawyer secret payments adoption case angry

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