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Cablegate: Swaziland's Deputy Prime Minister's Response to The

VZCZCXRO4138
PP RUEHJO
DE RUEHMB #0077/01 0571144
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261144Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MBABANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3951
INFO RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 2800
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 0435

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MBABANE 000077

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/OCS/CI (SHAFFER); CA/OCS/ACS (RAUGUST)
JOHANNESBURG FOR RCO KENT MAY

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: CASC KOCI PREL PGOV SOCI WZ
SUBJECT: SWAZILAND'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER'S RESPONSE TO THE
STALLED INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTIONS

REF: (A) MBABANE 0052, (B) MBABANE 0059

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: As a follow up to meetings Ambassador Irving and
ConOff Murphy held with Swazi government officials and Prospective
Adoptive Parents (PAPs) regarding the stalled inter-country adoption
cases detailed in refs (A) and (B), the Deputy Prime Minister's
Office (DPM) provided the families with written feedback on February
11. Although the responses were expedient, as promised, they are
far from conclusive and failed to provide any concrete resolution or
timeline to the cases. In a separate phone conversation February 24
between Principal Secretary Khangeziwe Mabuza and ConOff, the
Principal Secretary indicated that the DPM's office is still
reviewing its internal processing procedures before determining
whether a cabinet opinion is needed to officially suspend
international adoptions. Until that determination is made, they
will not process new cases. END SUMMARY

THE STALLED CASES
-----------------

2. (U) When Melanie Fullingim arrived in Swaziland on November 19,
2009 to adopt three older orphaned biological siblings, the
children's adoptable status was proclaimed unambiguous. In the
three months that Ms. Fullingim has been in country for the
processing of her case (which should have taken two weeks), the
missing mother resurfaced and the abusive father, who had
relinquished custody in writing, began to have second thoughts. In
its 11 February communication, the DPM's office indicated, for this
reason, "there is still a lot that needs to be done before this case
is concluded." The DPM further stated that the DPM's office would
continue to follow up on the case to determine the intentions of the
biological parents who for years had not been able or willing to
care for the children. Telephonically, the DPM said he would
personally speak to the biological parents. Since Mrs. Fullingim
had already bonded with the children as though they were members of
her family for over two months, she decided to wait in Swaziland for
a more concrete conclusion. She would then know the children were
either going back to the U.S. with her or to the biological family,
rather than back to an institution. At this writing, Mrs. Fullingim
is still waiting in Swaziland for a final determination.

3. (U) When John Messerly arrived in Swaziland on November 23, 2009
to adopt two unrelated orphaned children, the children's adoptable
status was also proclaimed unambiguous. After Mr. Messerly was in
country for two and a half months, the High Court approved the
adoption of the daughter, but questioned the adoptable status of the
son, despite the fact that the DPM's office had already recommended
the adoption. In the months that Mr. Messerly's case had been
languishing in the courts, a paternal great-aunt came forward,
claiming interest in seeing the child. The woman did not, however,
express an interest in taking custody and providing long-term care
for the child. In their 11 February communication, the DPM's office
indicated "this is a significant development that needs further
interrogation." Mr. Messerly remained in Swaziland as long as he
could to ensure that the child would at least be placed with his
family, but instead he was returned to the orphanage. Mr. Messerly
had to return to the U.S. so his daughter could begin school, but he
continues to nurture hope that the child's adoptable status will be
reconfirmed and he will be able to return to Swaziland to finalize
the adoption in the future. Mr. Messerly received his daughter's
immigrant visa in Johannesburg on February 19.

4. (U) When Dr. Nilou Ataie arrived in Swaziland on January 16, 2010
to adopt an infant child whose birth mother specifically requested
that her unborn child be placed immediately after birth with a PAP
rather than be put in an institution, the situation appeared
straight-forward. It proved otherwise. Although DSW approved this
arrangement in advance of Dr. Ataie's arrival in Swaziland, the
department reneged on the agreement and placed the newborn in an
orphanage. While the infant was in the orphanage, authorities
realized the consenting birth mother is a South African citizen and
the father is unknown, but assumed to be South African, so the child
has no right to Swazi citizenship under Swazi law. According to the
Deputy Prime Minister, this meant that the DSW could not process the
child's adoption without a legal opinion, and may have had to deport
the infant and transfer custody of the child to South Africa's
already overburdened social welfare system. In its 11 February
communication, the DPM's office indicated "further consultations
will be done between the Government of Swaziland and the Republic of
South Africa on the status of the child in question." Furthermore,
they recognized Dr. Ataie's interest in adopting another available
child, but could not commit to any time frame. With little prospect
of a fruitful adoption in the near future, Dr. Ataie decided to
return to her family in the U.S. on February 23.

CONTINUED REVIEW OF DPM'S INTERNAL PROCESSING PROCEDURES

MBABANE 00000077 002 OF 002


---------- ----- -------- ------------------------------

5. (U) According to Principal Secretary Mabuza, the DPM's office is
still conducting an internal review of its procedures to determine
if the cabinet should be involved in a formal decision on whether
adoptions should be suspended pending an overhaul of the process.
The DPM's office should have a determination by the end of March and
will make a formal announcement. Until that time, international
adoptions are not officially suspended, but are all being reviewed,
and new cases are not being processed.

IRVING

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