Vanuatu will have for the firsttime an Adoption Law by the end of this year.
Minister of Justice, Ronald Warsal, made the revelation yesterday afternoon, as he confirmed the Ministry of Justice will be undertaking the redrafting of the Adoption Act for Vanuatu.
Being a lawyer by profession, Minister Warsal has seen the need to create a law that is more suited to the needs and context of the people of Vanuatu.
There is strong justification for drafting a law that meets the needs of both applicants and birth parents and more particularly, protect the children of Vanuatu.
He stated, “The existing Adoption Act of Vanuatu was taken from the United Kingdom and is dated since 1957. Most of its provisions do not apply to this country and the court often has to address the adoption procedures under both the English law as well as the French law which are usually contradictory.
“This makes it very difficult for the courts to consistently implement the law.”
The minister added that certain provisions of the law unintentionally place ni-Vanuatu children at risk and the Minister is concerned to ensure that all necessary provisions are put in place to guarantee the protection and care of Ni-Vanuatu children being adopted.
Warsal revealed that from 2012 to 2016, the court granted a total of 134 adoptions. This, he explained, has highlighted an increasing trend of children being adopted through the current adoption law and procedures. It is expected that there will be an increase to the number of applications being received annually.
“As ministry responsible for upholding the rights and best interest of the children of Vanuatu, the increasing trend of adoption is a concern and as the minister responsible, I am initiating the commencement of drafting of a new Adoption Bill.
“With the assistance of the stakeholders and the Courts, the Ministry will be submitting new Adoption Bill to Parliament for this year 2017.”
The minister intends to seek the input of certain stakeholders including the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu Christian Council, members of the Bar, Civil Status Registry, and other private citizens in ensuring that the new law will take account of the needs of the people.
The minister also sought the assistance of the Master of the Supreme Court who is responsible for dealing with all the preliminary work prior to a final adoption order being made and who is able to highlight quite a number of discrepancies in the law.
The Minister hopes to have a fully drafted Adoption Act for the November sitting of Parliament.