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Nigerian baby ruling sparks trafficking fears

The human rights representative at the International Federation of Social Workers’ Human Rights Commission has criticised a High Court ruling allowing a couple to keep a Nigerian baby despite tests showing they are not the child’s biological parents.

Ruth Stark, who is also manager of the Scottish Association of Social Work, said the court ruling was not in the best interests of the child.

The ruling coincides with a government report showing human trafficking is on the rise in the UK.
The couple in the Nigerian baby case claimed they believed the woman had given birth under sedation following a second visit to a fertility clinic in Nigeria.

However, after returning to the UK with the child, a GP raised concerns about the matter. DNA tests proved the child was not theirs and the baby was taken into care.

Issuing a ruling in the case on 18 October, a High Court judge rejected assertions by the local authority that the couple’s story was a “charade”, ruling instead they were victims of an “appalling scam” and awarded them custody of the girl who is now aged two.

The decision comes as the Home Office published the first report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking highlighting worrying trends in the UK.

“This type of decision does not recognise the rights of the child to be brought up by their birth parents,” Ms Stark said.

“It is a contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the decision should be appealed on behalf of the child whose rights have been violated. The GP and social workers acted ethically in reporting to the court the circumstances of this child and it is the task of the court to consider as paramount the best interest of the child, regardless of its view on the integrity of the adults.

“Within the international community of social workers it is important to expose the malpractice of the perpetrators of this abuse. In this case, the reports indicate it to be the infertility clinic in Nigeria, but others will undoubtedly be involved in such an illegal act of trafficking children to meet the needs of adults.”

Charites have also raised concern that the judgement could encourage further human trafficking.

The cross-boarder report into trafficking shows the number of referrals to the UK Human trafficking Centre rose from 710 referrals in 2010 to 946 in 2011.

The report recognises the “particular vulnerabilities of child trafficking victims” and singles out sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and domestic servitude as the three biggest threats.