Gov’t establishing Guyana Central Authority for Hague Matters to strengthen oversight of inter-country adoptions

The Government of Guyana is taking proactive steps to ensure the smooth and cautious facilitation of inter-country adoptions by establishing the Guyana Central Authority for Hague Matters. This central authority, as outlined in the recently passed Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act of 2021, aims to enhance cooperation between convention countries and prevent improper financial gain associated with adoptions.

Ariel Haynes-Bovell, Parliamentary Counsel at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, shared insights during a recent episode of the ‘Simplifying the Law’ programme.

The central authority will be chaired by Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, and comprise six members, including an experienced Attorney-at-law, representatives from the Childcare Protection Agency, and officers from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Guyana signed the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of inter-country adoption in February 2019, and the establishment of the central authority aligns with international best practices and standards. Once operational, the authority will be governed by regulations to ensure the effective management of inter-country adoption processes.

Haynes-Bovell emphasised that confidentiality will be a top priority, safeguarding information about the child, biological parents, and adoptive parents. Rigorous investigations, home studies, and background checks will be conducted to ascertain the suitability of the adopting party and to ensure the child’s well-being in their care.

Defiance of these requirements carries legal consequences, with individuals facing a fine of $500,000 and six months imprisonment upon summary conviction.

Additionally, the central authority holds the power to propose amendments to existing laws to address any hindrances in the inter-country adoption process, ensuring ongoing adaptability to emerging challenges.

Haynes-Bovell explained, “The central authority would notice that we have a situation here that is making it a bit difficult. They may come back to the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and say, we notice that there’s an issue and it may be remedied by another amendment to the act.”

This proactive approach reflects the government’s commitment to fostering a secure and transparent inter-country adoption process in line with international standards.