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01:33, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
Update: 17:31, 03 January 2013 Thursday

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US senate appeals to Russia to reconsider adoption law
US senate appeals to Russia to reconsider adoption law
(Reuters)

The Russian ban on adoptions by US citizens was signed in response to the Magnitsky Act, an American law signed by President Obama in December

World Bulletin / News Desk

The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution condemning a new Russian law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children and calling on President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership to reconsider the measure on humanitarian grounds.

In its resolution, approved in a vote late Tuesday, the Senate affirmed that all children deserve to live in a permanent, protective family and said it valued a “long tradition” of the US and Russian governments working together to find homes for children who have been deprived of their parents.

The Senate also said it “disapproves of the Russia law ending inter-country adoptions of Russian children by United States citizens because it primarily harms vulnerable and voiceless children” and “strongly urges the Russia Government to reconsider the law on humanitarian grounds, in consideration of the well-being of parentless Russian children awaiting a loving and permanent family.”

The Senate resolution noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are 740,000 children living in Russia without parental care. It also cited data from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education affirming that 110,000 children live in state institutions in Russia.

"Whatever issues our two governments may be facing, there is no political reason to put vulnerable children in the middle of political posturing," said US Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who authored the resolution and serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about foster care and international adoption issues.

"Children should be raised by parents, not in orphanages, institutions or alone on the street," she said.

The Russian ban on adoptions by US citizens was signed in response to the Magnitsky Act, an American law signed by President Obama in December which calls for sanctions on individual Russian citizens deemed by the United States to have violated human rights.

Critics say the Magnitsky Act, which targeted Russians alone, was discriminatory, superfluous and intentionally unfriendly. The measure infuriated Russian lawmakers, who consequently responded by passing their own human rights legislation aimed specifically at US citizens, including the adoption ban.

The back-and-forth political shouting match has left hundreds of Americans who were already in the process of adopting Russian children – many specific sets of American parents and Russian children had already been paired– in limbo.

It is not clear whether those families will be allowed to complete the adoption process and bring the children to their new homes in America.

“As a grandparent of an internationally adopted child, I know that this new law is against the interests of the Russian people, in particular Russian children,” said Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who also serves as Co-Chair for CCAI.

“It is nothing more than a political play against the United States that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family,” he said. 



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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.