Kafala emphasises that the parents assuming the child’s care are not replacing the birth family, but merely acting as trustees or caretakers.
Until recently, Moroccan law allowed Muslims – including converts – to assume guardianship of abandoned children. However, a change in the law last September restricted kafala to Moroccans, meaning that foreign Muslims were no longer eligible to have children placed in their care.
’s Justice Minister defended the change, which he described to parliament in November 2012 as designed to better protect the interests and identity of children. Morocco
|Morocco's Parliament in Rabat|
All of this is a cause of particular heartache for non-Moroccan nationals who had started the kafala process before the change. Agence France-Presse reported at the start of this week on the plight of a number of individuals affected. One French couple, Yassamane and Eric, had been waiting to have a child placed with them for more than a year. Said Yassamane, who gave up her psychology practice in
France and moved to to complete the kafala process: Morocco
“I was awarded my child in April 2012. It was the happiest day of my life. But since that date, the judicial procedure that usually lasts a few months has dragged on for more than a year."
Another affected is Gabriel, a Spanish journalist. He is waiting to see whether the legal change will affect the kafala decision to place with him of a fifteen-month-old boy. "I'm afraid this decision will be applied retroactively," he said.
In the meantime, many of them continue to visit the children who have been matched with them at the orphanages where they must remain. Some allow visits to last for six hours a day, but one (in the southern resort town of
), restricts visits to an hour a day. Agadir
All very depressing…
But in the interests of saying something mildly helpful, I offer this: the 1996 Hague Convention on Child Protection recognises and supports international kafala placements. The Convention entered into force in
in December 2002. It is now also in force throughout the EU Membership (except for Morocco Belgium and , who really need to get on with it!) Italy
So, Moroccan authorities, look to the Convention. It’s there and it works. Use it!