- Standing committees added, restructured
A new draft bill to amend the existing revised family code proposed the elimination of specific articles granting foreigners the right to adopt Ethiopian children.
According to a document issued by the Office of the Prime Minister, the latest draft bill has been designed based on the new National Child Protection Policy, endorsed by the Council of Ministers in April this year.
The policy was designed with the objective that orphans, vulnerable children as well as unaccompanied children should grow with discipline only in their homeland honoring their culture and tradition among their community. It also says they should benefit from locally available care and support, and enjoy access to rehabilitation services. Therefore, they should either be adopted locally, or supported by a guardian family, tutor or help them to reunite with biological parents or relatives.
The existing proclamation states that the principle of adoptive filiation may be created by an agreement between a person and a child. It also states that an adopted child shall, for all intents and purposes, be deemed to be the child of the adopter.
However, due to problems especially with foreign adopters, over the past few years the issue of adoption has been stirring heated debates among various members of the community, including MPs. It is to be recalled that MPs have repeatedly grilled the former minister of women and children affairs regarding the status of a number of Ethiopian children that had been adopted by foreigners over the past two decades.
In particular, inability by biological parents to trace their children and adoptees being denied a chance to communicate with their biological parents have been major issues that have been echoed in parliament.
In order to address these challenges and to replace the existing Family Code (The Revised Family Code Proclamation No. 213/2000) with a new policy, a new draft bill was tabled before parliament with a view to banning adoption by foreigners, according to documents reviewed by The Reporter. Hence, the provision which is stated on Article 193 would be repealed fully while paragraph (d) of Sub-Article (3) of Article 194 is to be erased upon revision and further scrutiny by the Women and Children Affairs Standing Committee.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that pending adoption-related court cases by foreigners would be settled as per the old stipulation, according to the draft bill.
In a related development, during parliamentary session Tuesday, MPs unanimously approved the restructuring of standing committees as well as the establishment of two new standing committees that would enable the house “effectively” enhance its check and balance roles.
The newly created standing committees are Democracy, Human Rights and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee and Undertakings Affairs Standing Committee (to oversee customs and revenue) that would enable the house oversee matters under their purview.
The Democracy, Human Right and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee is an offshoot of the Legal, Justice, and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee, while the Undertakings Affairs Standing Committee is one of the Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee.
The house endorsed the establishment of these committees with the amendment of the Rules of Procedure and Members’ Code of Conduct Regulation.
According to the amendment, the number of standing committees has increased to 20 from the previous 18.
The house also reconsidered the function and responsibilities of other standing committees.
Accordingly, the former Higher Education Affairs Standing Committee is renamed Educational Affairs Standing Committee.
The former Legal, Justice and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee is to become Legal and Justice Affairs Standing Committee.
During the same session, the house deliberated on some 14 agreements signed with different governments and international organizations before it forwarded them to pertinent standing committees for further scrutiny and revision.