Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – Sierra Leone’s Acting Chief Justice, His Lordship Hon. Justice Nicholas C. Browne-Marke, recently hosted a delegation from the Dutch Document Investigation Unit of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Ministry of Justice and Security in the Netherlands.
Angela A.W Trommelen, Senior Document Expert from the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, described the visit as a fact-finding mission aimed at understanding Sierra Leone’s laws and procedures regarding adoption and the prosecution of related offences.
Trommelen clarified that their role is not to determine who is eligible for a permit to stay in Holland but to assess the legitimacy of documents and advise the Immigration and Naturalization Service accordingly.
“We believe in granting permits to those entitled to them in our country, but we also have to identify and address cases of document forgery,” stated Trommelen. She revealed having encountered some questionable cases from Sierra Leone and expressed the importance of assistance in understanding adoption-related documents.
Last year, the Dutch Investigation Unit scrutinized over 130,000 adoption files, making timely verification challenging. Trommelen emphasized that understanding the original form of documents from different countries, including Sierra Leone, is crucial for expeditious legitimacy determination.
In response, Acting Chief Justice Browne-Marke outlined Sierra Leone’s adoption process, starting from the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, progressing through the Court, and concluding at the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA).
He highlighted the rigorous legal procedures and due diligence required for adoption, ensuring that both adoptive and biological parents comprehend the consequences, especially regarding property ownership and the adopted child’s entitlement. The consent of biological parents or guardians is integral to the process.
The Acting Chief Justice addressed concerns about the rate at which citizens of certain countries are adopting children in Sierra Leone, underscoring the assignment of such matters to experienced Judges.
Explaining the legal steps for obtaining an Adoption Order and taking the child out of the jurisdiction, Browne-Marke outlined the involvement of lawyers, court applications, hearings, notarization of documents, and registration at the Registrar-General’s office.
Rutger Schaaf, Document Analyst at the Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Security, was also part of the delegation. The collaborative engagement aims to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation in adoption matters between Sierra Leone and the Netherlands. MJB/1/2/2024