Armenian authorities say they have launched a criminal investigation into the “numerous” cases of foreigners illegally adopting Armenian children.
“Two citizens of Armenia have used their contacts at one of the local maternity hospitals and at several agencies and orphanages to organize the adoption of more than 30 babies by citizens of Italy with gross violations of Armenian laws,” the National Security Service (NSS) said in a statement on November 14.
The statement said the illegal adoptions took place from 2016 to 2018, but it did not provide any information about the current status of the babies.
During that period a total of 54 children were officially adopted in Armenia by foreigners and were taken abroad.
Most of the cases involved citizens of Italy and the United States.
The scarcity of information released by the Armenian government agencies has fueled speculation that the case could involve the sale of organs.
“There is no word about any sale of organs at this time. If there is any additional information in this regard it will be reported,” Security Council Secretary Armen Grigorian said.
Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosian also reacted to the NSS’s statement, saying that “any medical institution or health care provider that has been or will continue to be involved in such illegal schemes must be held accountable by the full force of the law.”
The process of adoptions in Armenia was suspended in September after minister of labor and social affairs Zaruhi Batoyan expressed suspicions over discrepancies in the official numbers presented by different agencies regarding adoptions of Armenian children by foreigners.