12/15/2011, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Sr. Eliza, the sister of Mother Teresa accused of "selling children", exonerated

by Melani Manel Perera
No illegal activity in the shelter for unmarried mothers run by the Missionaries of Charity. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), chiefly responsible for the arrest of religious, must return records and documents to the orphanage.
Colombo (AsiaNews) - This morning, magistrate Yvonne Fernando acquitted Sr. Mary Eliza, of the Missionaries of Charity, of the charge of illegal adoptions. The sister had been arrested on the accusation of "selling children” in the shelter (Prem Nivas) for mothers of girls in Rawathawatte (Moratuwa, Colombo), operated by the Sisters of Mother Teresa. The magistrate also "recommended" the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) – at the origin of the charges against the sisters - to manage any future investigation more carefully. Additionally, the NCPA must return all documentation taken from the shelter with the arrest of Sister Eliza to the Missionaries’ orphanage. The prosecutor Neville Abeyratne said that the NCPA acted "irresponsibly" and has tarnished the transparent image of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, who have always served Sri Lankan society.

At the instance of an anonymous phone call on November 23 last a group of people led by Anoma Dissanayake, President of the NCPA, surrounded and raided the Missionaries’ shelter, where the girls present were questioned and documents and records taken from the house. On 25 November, Sister Eliza was arrest, then released on bail on November 29.

According to Sr. Bernadette Fernando, executive secretary of the Conference of Major Superiors in Sri Lanka, the investigations conducted by the investigators have shown that there was no illegal activity in Prem Nivas and that the children present there have always been adopted in accordance with the laws of the State. In particular, the allegations revolved around the cases of three young girls: one was brought by police after being raped by a cousin, and the second was sent by the Probation Office (a national organization that responds to the Ministry of Social Affairs); the third is a victim of the tsunami, without any family in the world.

Card. Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, had announced complete halt to all institutional commitments until the allegations were withdrawn.
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