Baby racket in three major hospitals
Three state-run maternity hospitals are the focus of a CID investigation into what may be a massive baby smuggling racket as detectives discover false birth certificates that have been issued recently.
Investigations have revealed that a child born on April 21, 2005 and another born on January 6, 2005 had birth certificates which bore the same number -- No. 4101 -- and the give-away link seems to be the bold seal on both. “Both the so-called valid birth certificates have been issued by the Births and Deaths Medical Registrar at De Soysa Women’s Hospital,” points out a source at the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), adding that the Registrar would be arrested shortly.
|A new-born baby at De Soysa Hospital
On the trail of what is believed to be a massive document forgery and baby racket, the source discloses that information unearthed so far implicates three major hospitals in Colombo – the De Soysa Women’s Hospital, the Castle Street Hospital for Women and the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila.
The baby-racket had come to light following the abduction of a newborn from the Kalubowila Hospital (subsequently found and reunited with his family) and investigations into the whereabouts of another child, who had gone missing from the same hospital, The Sunday Times understands. This child who was abandoned had been looked after by the Kalubowila Hospital staff. The Kalubowila child too was found subsequently, with the couple who
allegedly “adopted” her being remanded. This case comes up for hearing tomorrow at the Gangodawila Magistrate’s Court.
“We found a birth certificate issued in her name and when we checked it out we found hers and another child’s (born at De Soysa Hospital) birth certificate having the same number. That gave us a clue that forgeries were taking place,” said the NCPA source, explaining that a statement from the second child’s mother also indicated a racket within a racket.
The second child was actually born on December 6, 2004 at the De Soysa Hospital, but the parents had gone home without registering the child’s birth. When they did come to register the birth, the stipulated time period of three months for such registration had lapsed.
However, the registering authority had allegedly offered to do the needful for a fee of Rs. 3,000, said the NCPA source, and the parents had agreed allegedly forking out Rs. 2,500 under the table.
If the usual three-month period lapses, a ‘past-birth’ registration has to be done with the mother or the guardian giving a declaration, The Sunday Times learns.
“Not only was the birth certificate forged but even a wrong birth date, January 6, 2005, was inserted,” stressed the source, adding that the procedure is for those giving birth at state hospitals to collect the ‘birth declaration form’ duly filled by the hospital authorities and hand it over to the Registrar designated to such hospitals.
|Two birth certificates with the same number (4101)
“In some instances, the hospital authorities seem to hand over blank ‘birth declaration forms’ to people, so that anyone can fill in any details they want,” says the source. “That explains how bogus names are listed as those of the actual mother and father.”
Not only in Colombo but such a case has also been detected in Kalutara, the source added.
When The Sunday Times contacted Chief Inspector W.T.T. Wijesena, Officer-in-Charge of the NCPA Police Unit, he urged the public to cooperate and provide information on the forged birth certificate racket.
Kalutara case on February 8
The case in which a foreign woman, a former Kalutara Mayor and a Pradeshiya Sabha member have been charged under the Penal Code in connection with cheating, forging documents and trafficking a child will be taken up in the Colombo High Court on February 8.
Documents falsely indicated that the woman from the Netherlands had allegedly given birth to a baby at the Nagoda Hospital, according to the NCPA. “The baby transaction had allegedly cost Rs. 750,000,” an NCPA spokesman said.
Airport baby: Four suspects re-remanded
The four suspects remanded in connection with the alleged attempt to smuggle a baby girl out of the country, have been re-remanded for another two weeks till February 8.
On a request of the CID Airport Unit, further investigations have been handed over to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA).
The remandees -- being held at the Negombo Remand Prison under Section 45 C of the Immigration and Emigration Act -- are the woman who allegedly attempted to smuggle the baby to Dubai on forged documents, her mother who was accompanying her, the biological mother of the baby and a labourer of the Castle Street Hospital for Women who was the alleged middleman. The baby, in the eye of the storm, is being looked after at the Sarvodaya Nutrition Centre.
The CID will investigate the forged documentation while everything else will be handled by the NCPA, a Criminal Investigation Department source said. The Sunday Times learns that it is rarely that the CID hands over probes to other authorities and this indicates a measure of confidence in the Police Unit of the NCPA. While requesting the CID investigation notes, the NCPA has recorded the statement of the hospital labourer, Sub-Inspector Bandujeewa Bopitigoda of the NCPA Police Unit who was at the Negombo MC on Friday said. The wealthy Madame from Slave Island believed to be the alleged mastermind in the massive baby-selling racket so far involving five babies is yet to be arrested.
In addition to the most recent sale which came to light after the arrest of the daughter-and-mother duo just before boarding a flight for Dubai on January 6, the CID has uncovered four more baby-sales over the last year.The duo arrested at the airport had allegedly paid Rs. 85,000 to the hospital labourer to get the baby girl, the CID source said, adding that the labourer had apparently persuaded the biological mother, an unwed young garment factory worker from Kelaniya, to give up the baby. Meanwhile, Asela Rekawa, lawyer of the two women arrested at the airport, said that he hoped to file adoption papers for the baby tomorrow.
The younger woman married for 12 years and living in Dubai for the past eight years is an accountant while her husband is an electrical engineer. They had been desperate to adopt a baby as they themselves, after several operations, were unable to have one.