The Government decided on 23 October 2008 not to extend the Agreement between Sweden and Vietnam on Mutual Cooperation concerning Adoption.
The decision is based on information that has come to light about deficiencies in adoption operations in Vietnam.
“It is absolutely central to the Government that the rights of the individual child and the biological parents are respected in adoption operations. There have been disturbing signals that children may be subject to trafficking in Vietnam. Under Swedish law we can only cooperate with countries that can guarantee respect for children’s rights. That is why we are now refraining from extending the agreement,” says Minister for Health and Social Affairs Göran Hägglund.
A report from the US Embassy in Hanoi (spring 2008) revealed the existence of deficiencies in adoption and orphanage operations in Vietnam. Among other irregularities, biological mothers have received payments upon giving up their newborn children and biological parents have not been informed of the consequences of giving up their children for adoption. Examples of forged documents were also discovered.
In view of this information, representatives of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Swedish Intercountry Adoptions Authority visited Vietnam in September. At the meetings between the Swedish representatives and the Vietnamese authorities, it became clear that the two sides see the problems differently. The Vietnamese were unable to demonstrate that they are able and prepared to remedy the problems to which attention has been drawn.
When Sweden signed an agreement with Vietnam on adoptions in 2004, pledges were made that the country would accede to the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Since then, Vietnam has postponed accession several times and has still not specified a definite date on which the country intends to accede to the Convention.
The United States has terminated its cooperation agreement, with effect from 1 September 2008. Several countries, including Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Norway, have no agreement with Vietnam and are very doubtful about entering into any such agreement under present circumstances.
Swedish adoption associations can only engage in international adoption intermediation in another country on condition that the other country has adoption legislation or other regulations that respect the fundamental principles of international adoption expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. A further requirement is that the country has functioning administrative arrangements for its adoption operations.
As a result of the notice of termination, Swedish adoption associations will no longer be able to engage in adoption cooperation with Vietnam after the agreement expires. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs will visit Vietnam in November this year. There they will discuss how the adoption cooperation can best be wound up so as not to adversely affect children and parents seeking to adopt.
Press Secretary to Göran Hägglund
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