Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Using DNA to Fight Trafficking in Haiti & Philippines

I've posted before about the organization DNA-ProKids, which offers DNA services to identify trafficked children and match them with their parents. They are at work in the Philippines:

Humanitarian workers using DNA tests are offering to help track down Filipino babies illegally sent to Singapore for adoption in affluent countries.

“Women posing as their mothers would go to Singapore using fake identification to make authorities believe that the babies are theirs,” said Amihan Abueva, regional coordinator of the NGO Asia Against Child Trafficking.

“But once in Singapore, the babies are left behind,” Abueva told a forum on “DNA-Prokids: Using DNA To Help Fight Child-Trafficking.”

“The trouble is that there are no complainants,” Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor told reporters on the sidelines of the forum at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

“Parents also do not know where to go. They do not even know whom to accuse since no one knows where the child went,” Blancaflor said.
And thanks to a link from kantmakm, I can report that the organization is at work in Haiti, too:

The project called DNA-Prokids in Haiti will enable to initially take 6.000 samples of genetic data from adults who have reported missing children, immediate relatives with blood relationship, and from children with no family or doubtful relatives. The aim is to deter human trafficking of children and help reunite abducted and homeless children with their parents after the devastating earthquake, a problem which UNICEF and other organizations are warning of.

* * *

The collaboration offer to the Haitian Government will start immediately and is scheduled in five stages, the director of the program Dr. José A. Lorente said: ”On site training on sample collection; sample collection kits distribution (saliva, blood) for children under 18 with unknown family; sample collection kits distribution (saliva, blood) for parents (or relatives, if needed) who report their children disappearance; DNA analysis of the cases and design and development of ad hoc databases; and, finally, data delivery to competent Haitian authorities. Data interchange will make family reunification possible in same cases, it will force to continue searching in other cases, but it will save the children from abuse and organized crime in all cases.
How wonderful that DNA provides the means for family reunification, and that this organization can offer these services for free. And I admit a very personal interest -- I think DNA databases hold the promise to find birth family in China. . . .

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