A coalition of Malawian human rights groups plans to seek a court injunction on Monday to stop pop star Madonna from adopting a one-year-old boy.
Justin Dzodzi, the chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee, said his group is challenging last week’s interim court order granting the adoption.
“We are challenging the legality of the interim order already made by the court and we are also proceeding to challenge the actual application for adoption because the current order is not an order of adoption, it is just an order of custody,” Dzodzi told CBC News, saying the order was illegal because Madonna was not a resident of the country.
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“Because the order under which the child has been taken is not an adoption order it does not confer on Madonna any rights of the parent neither does it extinguish any rights of the other parent, David’s father,” said Dzodzi.
Madonna travelled to Malawi 10 days ago to raise awareness of the plight of orphans in the country.
She applied for an interim order to adopt a child named David, who lives in a Malawian orphanage, but left the country Friday without him.
However, on Monday an immigration official in Malawi was reported as saying the child had now left the country on a chartered plane headed to Britain.
David was believed to be travelling with two Britons and two U.S. citizens, one of whom listed her occupation as a nanny.
The committee, an umbrella organization of 67 rights groups, plans to launch the challenge before a constitutional court Monday in the administrative capital, Lilongwe.
Under Malawi law, a person must be a resident of the country in order to adopt a child. Though there is a proposal to increase the requirement to a period of residency not less than 18 months, it is not presently in effect and is more of a guideline, said Dzodzi.
The group said the country’s adoption rules should not be bent for celebrities who want to adopt.
Madonna spent a week in the country before applying for the adoption.
The child had lived in an orphanage near the Zambian border since his mother died when he was a month old.
His father, Yohane Banda, said he had not originally planned to give up the child, but was happy he would go to a home where he could have every advantage.
“I suppose deep in my heart I always imagined that when he was better, or I had got another wife, I would go and take him back,” Banda said in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail.
“I did not think anyone would want to take him away.”
Banda, an illiterate farmer, said Madonna had promised to bring the child back for visits.
He was surprised to learn that his son was being adopted by a world-famous celebrity, but said he had met her and she was a “nice Christian lady.”
Madonna has two other children; a son with husband filmmaker Guy Ritchie and a daughter with Carlos Leon, her former personal trainer.