CHILD TRAFFICKING: How ‘Baby Morara’ case demonstrates illegal guardianship, forgery of documents

In our focus on the child trafficking trade in Kenya, Kurunzi will highlight some cases that pay testament to how the cartels go on with their business.

We will review the case of Baby George Morara (not his real name), a three-year old who was placed in the hands of an American couple that was attempting to travel with him abroad yet they were in the country on tourist visas.

The case had been raised by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, who sought the intervention the Cabinet Secretary to have the child cleared to travel abroad because he was “in need of urgent medical attention abroad as claimed by” the guardian.

“The Cabinet Secretary was informed that the child’s ‘guardian’ […] Was unable to travel out of the country with the child due to the conditions stipulated on the guardianship order that was granted by the Children’s Court, Nairobi, on 2nd February 2018,” reads a confidential report on the matter of the child.

Several irregularities

The guardians wanted the CS “to facilitate a waiver of the conditions at the Children’s Court so that the Court issues a favorable order for them”.

“They claimed that the order they had been given by the Court was not workable or implementable. Notably the order did not give them orders for the child’s passport or birth certificate to be issued under their names.”

This request was illegal because issuance of passport and birth certificate are only given on permanent care or adoption.

Findings by an advisory committee appointed by the CS to the case and make recommendations found out several irregularities after thorough conduct social inquiries and home visits were conducted jointly by officers from Child Welfare Society of Kenya and Directorate of Children Services.

The committee established the child had been stolen and illegally placed in the hands of the American couple using forged documents, including the children’s officer’s report, the medical report which was being used to have the child travel abroad and, worse, the couple had used the child to fundraise through a web portal they had created in their name.

Illegal placement of the child, forgery of documents

Baby George Morara was placed with the American couple through a Kiambu Road-based home that is owned by a relative and neighbor of the couple back. The baby had allegedly been abandoned in the neighborhood of the home and was transferred to another home “where the child was originally placed by court and forcefully taken” to the couple through their mother.

“The placement was un-procedural according to Kenyan Laws. The child was procured by Kerubo (not her real name), onward to Juliet’s mother (not her real name)… onward to Juliet and later to Juliet and her husband under the cover of JKL Home (not the real name) and KPL Rescue Centre (not the real name) under a disguised foster care placement and guardianship,” the committee observed in their report.

“It was noted that the applicants obtained guardianship order in the children court using forged documents which they presented to the Magistrate court. “

The forged documents included the medical reports from Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital and the children`s officer reports filed in court; which the committee stated “translates to child trafficking”, as per the Children Act 2001 and Counter Trafficking in Persons Act.

Further, the child was placed with the couple when he was less than one year old, contrary to government policy that prohibits children below one year being placed with foreigners.

Abuse and exploitation of the child

It was discovered that the couple was running a website fundraising for adoption purposes after the child was placed with them in June 2016.

“This brings out an aspect of abuse and exploitation of the child for monetary gain. This is illegal and it attracts a penalty in Kenya as stipulated under the Children’s Act Section 179 (1). 

As regarding the child being given to tourists, the report states: “Tourists do not qualify to be placed with children either under foster care, guardianship or adoption anywhere in the world and Kenya is not an exception. Even in times of emergency children are never given to tourists.

“Placement of children to tourists amounts to child trafficking. It is not possible to establish whether they can be given guardianship or not while on tourists status.”

There was, also, no background checks on the couple against the requirement to conduct the checks on individuals prior to placement of a child under foster care, guardianship or adoption.

“The procedures on background checks on tourists are normally not provided for thus it is difficult to have background checks for a tourist.

“There is no international mechanism or procedures from a country to country on background checks for guardianship unless under kinship care.”

Circumventing moratorium through illegal guardianship

The report states: “It was noted that with the Moratorium being in place, there were attempts to use other legal means or procedures to take children out of the country. It was noted that guardianship orders were being used to negate the intentions of the Moratorium.

“It was very clear that the ultimate intentions of the couple were to be placed with a child for adoption while knowing very well that the Moratorium on inter-country and resident adoption was in place. They later went to court and obtained guardianship orders. 

“It is evident that they were trying to circumvent the moratorium through acquisition of guardianship to get a Kenyan child out of the country with no follow up mechanisms.”

The report notes how the couple would then file for adoption in the United States in the absence of the Kenyan government, thus jeopardizing the safety and welfare of the child.

“The USA law provides for processing of adoption proceedings when one has a guardianship order of a child whether that order is acquired within or outside USA.”

Violations of the child’s human rights

Against claims by the Kiambu Road home of the child having been found abandoned around their property, reports with the directorate of criminal investigations indicated the child had actually been stolen from Mogra Rescue Centre which had made the reports “several times”.

Allegedly, Juliet had on several occasions been found hiding with the child in the coastal region of Kenya.

“There is no evidence that comprehensive family tracing was conducted to look for the child`s birth parents or relatives.

Placement of the child […] under guardianship violates his human rights bearing in mind that the placement happened without family tracing of the child’s birth family and in disregard of the child’s long term best interest.”

Inducement of illness and obstructing access medical help

After his rescue, Baby Morara was found to have been suffering from life-threatening adenoids yet the couple never bothered to have the child treated, perhaps to justify the need for medical attention abroad.

“Obstruction of doctors to see and attend to the child-from the time Juliet had the child, she had been obstructing any efforts for the government doctors to attend to the child as well as carry out any physical examination over the child.”

Further, the couple had given false information on epilepsy and presentation of a case of ‘near to death child’. They claimed the child’s condition could only be treated abroad yet the child was not epileptic.

They even had put the child on life-threatening medicine that the child did not require, “motive was to present a dying child when the child was not”.

“His medical condition was being exaggerated by the couple just to provide a way to travel out of the country with the child.”

Successful rehabilitation after rescue

The baby was put under the care and protection of CWSK where he has regained his health after being given proper medical attention and surgery at Kenyatta Hospital on 9 June 2019 to remove the adenoids.

It has since been established by the medical doctors that Baby Morara does not require any specialized medical treatment abroad. He stands a great opportunity to benefit from the existing alternative family care system in Kenya.

“The long term best interest of this child is permanency which can be achieved by re-unification of the child with his birth family or placement of the child with an alternative family care; local adoption.

“The current status only compromises the child’s chance to be re-unified with his birth family as it blocks the family tracing efforts.  Again, currently no child can be placed for inter-country adoption due to the Moratorium on child adoption in Kenya.

“It’s evident therefore that Baby Morara does not require any international intervention and any international intervention will be an injustice…”


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