Court/Judicial body: Niamey Tribunal of First Instance
Date: 2 April 2008 CRC
Provisions: Article 21: Adoption
Domestic provisions: Civil Code, Articles 343 and 344.2: conditions for adoption
Background: This case concerns the adoption by the claimant of her niece. Under Article 344.2 of the Niger Civil Code, only persons without legitimate children can adopt. The Public Prosecutor opposed the adoption on the grounds that the claimant did not prove that she was childless. The claimant asked the court to allow the adoption regardless, as it was in the child’s best interest.
Issue and resolution: Adoption. Despite the claimant’s failure to bring proof that she was childless, the Court decided that it was in the child’s best interest for the adoption to proceed.
Court reasoning: The Court explained that the conditions set out in Article 344.2 could not be an obstacle to the adoption if the child’s best interest was at stake. As the child’s biological parents had consented to the adoption, and since the claimant had sufficient means to provide the child with a good education and pleasant lifestyle, the Court decided that it would be in the child’s best interest to be adopted by the claimant. Therefore, the adoption was allowed to proceed, despite not formally meeting the requirements of Article 344.2 of the Civil Code.
Excerpt citing CRC and other relevant human rights
As translated by CRIN: “But it is understood that even if the legal conditions relating to age and childlessness are not fulfilled, they cannot block the adoption when the child’s interests are at stake. Article 21 of the CRC, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989 and ratified by Niger on 3 September 1990, states that “States Parties that recognise and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration”.” In French language: “Mais attendu qu’il est admis que même si les conditions légales relatives à l’âge et à l’absence d’enfant légitime ne sont pas remplies ; Celles-ci ne sauraient faire obstacle à l’adoption chaque fois que l’intérêt de l’enfant est en jeu ; Qu’en outre il ressort de l’ Article 21 de la convention relative aux droits de l’enfant, adoptée par l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies, le 20 Novembre 1989 et ratifiée par le Niger le 3 septembre 1990 que « les Etats parties qui admettent et/ou autorisent l’adoption, s’assurent que l’intérêt de l’enfant est la considération primordiale en la matière ».”
CRIN comments: CRIN believes that this decision is compatible with the CRC. The Court determined correctly that the best interests of the child principle overrides conflicting requirements of national law, especially in the context of adoption where the best interests of the child must be accorded paramount importance.
Citation: Niger, Tribunal de première instance de Niamey, 02 avril 2008, 2008 TPI 92 (JN)
Notes: Read a similar case in which the Court allows the adoption of a child by a couple with five biological children.
Link to full judgement: http://www.juricaf.org/arret/NIGER-TRIBUNALDEPREMIEREINSTANCEDENIAMEY-20080402-2008TPI92JN