Following the desperate story of the Pedros – absolved of wrong-doing in the police case that stripped them of their children but still waiting miserably to be reunited as a family – more news has come out of UK to support allegations of a high-level forced adoption ring involving thousands of children.
Público newspaper reports this week of up to five cases where Portuguese immigrants in Britain have had their children taken from them – without charges being pressed or indeed proven. They are reported to be warned that any communication, online or to the press, could mean that they never see their children again.
John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has been fighting for Justice for Families for years, claims parents are threatened with imprisonment if they speak out – and that this would mean the loss of their parental rights.
“There, parents are considered guilty until they can prove their innocence” – and that is if their case ever gets to the family court.
In many cases children are removed from their parents and simply not returned even if the parent is not charged.
This appears to be the case in the situation involving at least one of the Portuguese parents in the Público investigation.
The 29-year-old lost her five-month-old daughter after taking her to hospital with a bruise on her head.
Tests showed a fracture, “which according to doctors could not have been accidental”, writes Público – while the mother maintained her daughter had fallen out of a bouncy-cradle.
The child was immediately removed from her parent, despite the fact that she was still breastfeeding, and placed in foster care.
An investigation was opened into the mother, and it is reported to be still ongoing.
The child has thus been separated from her parent for over a month, and there is no indication when, or indeed if, the mother will see her again.
This is just one of at least five cases that are now being “accompanied” by consular authorities in Britain – but if the Pedros case is anything to go by, consular pressure is slow in ringing any changes.
The charges against Carla and José Pedro that saw them lose all their children in one fell swoop were dropped through lack of evidence over two weeks ago, and still they have no idea when they will be reunited with their family.
A meeting with consular officials and British authorities in mid-April established that the Pedro children should all be allowed to return to Portugal, to be cared for in an institution there pending further inquiries into the parents’ situation – but so far this has not happened.
Last time we spoke to the parents, mother Carla told us they were “absolutely devastated, clinging to the hope that the Portuguese authorities will finally step in and help”.
By NATASHA DONN