Brinda, ex-CJs call for mechanism to ensure repatriation

With one more case of an Indian child being taken into forcible custody by child protection agencies in a foreign country coming to light, a group of activists led by CPM leader Brinda Karat and two former High Court chief justices A P Shah and Mukul Mudgal on Friday sought establishment of a permanent formal mechanism by the government for repatriation of such children.

As the first step in their campaign to mount pressure, they approached the NHRC asking it to persuade the government to "designate a committee or department with representatives in all embassies, consulates and missions abroad" to "respond to the plight of Indian children caught in care proceedings".

They also wanted the government to issue a travel advisory to alert those planning to travel abroad about the "severe and confiscatory nature of the foreign child protection laws".

"How can any foreign country impose such draconian laws on our citizens and the Government of India sit back and say these are individual matters," Karat said. "We expect the Government of India to intervene urgently and raise this issue at UN fora. Let India become the voice of the children who are snatched away," she added.

The campaign the convener of which is senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's daughter Suranya Aiyar wanted New Delhi to enter into agreements with countries, particularly those which are signatories to International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for ensuring the return of children caught in care proceedings to their extended families in India.

Barely a year after the Norway child custody case, it was reported last month that the US government has taken custody of an 11-month-old baby of a Bengali couple on the direction of a New Jersey court which reportedly said the parents were negligent.

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