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Tajikistan bans foreign adoptions

DUSHANBE, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - Tajikistan will ban foreign adoptions, following a move by the country's lower house of parliament on Wednesday approving amendments to the family code.

"According to the amendments, foreign citizens are barred from adopting children from Tajikistan," said Makhkam Makhmudov, deputy head of the Central Asian republic's presidential administration, who proposed the amendments.

He added that 20 children from the former Soviet republic had been adopted by foreigners since the family code was adopted in 1999.

The 1999 family code neither officially permitted, nor banned foreign adoptions.

Makhmudov said the move did not contradict to Tajikistan's international commitments in the area of children's rights.

The bill also bans intermediary activities in adoption procedures, and says children aged from 10 have the right to freely express their opinions when their interests are at stake.

Draft laws come into force in Tajikistan once approved by the lower house, the Majlis Milli.

Adoptions are not very common in the largely rural nation struggling to revive its economy following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Adoption procedures in the country have been plagued by heavy bureaucracy and corruption.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) says orphanages in Tajikistan housed 11,000 children in 2004. Unicef also says that 80% of institutionalized children are not actually orphans. Forced by poverty, the parents of many children have left the country to work abroad, mainly in Russia.

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