In December, police in Sri Lanka found a newborn who had been grabbed at Colombo Hospital while his mother was in the restroom. Admidst much public attention including the President of Sri Lanka, police searched around the clock and apprehended the woman who allegedly snatched the infant. Two more infants were kidnapped from the same hospital and police were questioning the same woman in connection with those stolen babies.
The kidnapping at Colombo Hospital in December prompted an investigation by the CID of three major state-run hospitals in Sri Lanka, probing into what may be a large baby smuggling ring and document forgery racket: the De Soysa Women’s Hospital, the Castle Street Hospital for Women and the Colombo South Teaching Hospital. The investigations were also prompted by the kidnapping of a newborn from the Kalubowila Hospital and the disappearance of another child from the same hospital.
The CID is looking for a “wealthy” woman who is believed to be the mastermind behind the alleged baby trafficking ring, Kompanna Veediya. Several hospital workers were allegedly in on the racket which was revealed after the attempt a Dutch couple to smuggle a Sri Lankan baby out of the country. It is suspected that at least four babies have already been smuggled out of the country in the past year. According to CID ASP Mewan Silva, the hospital employees at Castle Hospital target mothers with various problems including financial difficulties and convince them to turn over their babies to be adopted by rich families. Veediya reportedly pays the hospital employees between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 per baby.
At De Soysa Hospital, investigations revealed that two babies born on different dates in 2005 were issued birth certificates with the same number by the hospital. It was reported that the registrar at De Soysa Hospital would be arrested shortly. According to a source at the National Child Protection Authority, “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. That explains how bogus names are listed as those of the actual mother and father.”
Regarding the case of a Dutch woman who had allegedly given birth at Nagoda Hospital, a former mayor and another individual who were charged under the Penal Code with cheating, forging documents and child trafficking, was scheduled to be heard by the Colombo High Court on February 8. That transaction allegedly cost Rs. 750,000.
Another case involves four suspects who were remanded for allegedly attempting to smuggle a baby girl out of the country to Dubai on January 6 using forged documents. Those being held in the case are the woman who was allegedly attempting to smuggle the baby, her mother, the biological mother of the baby and an employee of the Castle Street Hospital for Women who was allegedly the middleman. The mother and daughter who were arrested reportedly paid Rs. 85,000 to the hospital employee for the baby girl and the employee reportedly persuaded the biological mother to give up the baby. The daughter who was arrested is an accountant married to an electrical engineer and were described as desperate to have a baby after struggling through infertility.
Major baby trafficking racket bared, January 12, 2008, Daily Mirror
Sri Lanka family reunited with abducted baby on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2007, Lanka Business Online
Baby racket in three major hospitals, January 27, 2008, Sunday Times Online