Malawi court delays Madonna adoption ruling

Thu May 15, 2008 9:14am EDT
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By Mabvuto Banda

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi's High Court delayed on Thursday its ruling on whether U.S. pop diva Madonna may adopt a two-year-old Malawian boy, to allow it to review a new human rights report which says the move would be illegal.

The adoption has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been ravaged by an AIDS epidemic leaving more than one million orphans.

Malawi's government and toddler David Banda's father -- his only surviving parent -- have endorsed the adoption, and a local rights group that had opposed the case said earlier this week it was no longer interested in pursuing the matter.

But the new, non-binding report by the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which is set up by the government, could complicate the case.

"What we want is ... consideration of certain procedures that conform with international conventions on child rights and what our law says, otherwise, as it stands, everything is illegal and the person who wants to adopt the child does not qualify until the judge finds solutions to it," HRC Chairman Dorothy Nyasulu told Reuters.

Madonna's lawyer told reporters he was still confident his client's adoption bid would be successful.

"I'm confident that the adoption will go through because my client has met all the requirements and the government is satisfied that she qualifies," Alan Chinula said.

The HRC's report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, said the law made clear a person had to be in Malawi for at least 18 months to qualify as a resident. Madonna has not spent that long in the southern African nation.   Continued...

<p>Singer Madonna performs during a concert to celebrate the launch of her new album "Hard Candy" in Paris May 6, 2008. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier</p>