In 2018, Dilani Butink initiated a lawsuit against the State of the Netherlands and the intermediary organization involved in her wrongful adoption from Sri Lanka. In first instance, the District Court of the Hague rejected Dilani's claims, holding that they were time-barred. The Court of Appeals has now overturned that ruling. In the appeal, the State of the Netherlands had dropped its position that the claims were time-barred, but the intermediary organization had not. The Appeals Court however, deemed the position that the claims were time barred to be unacceptable, and rejected that defense. The Court of Appeals held that both the State and the intermediary organization had acted unlawfully towards Dilani.

In light of the known issues with international adoptions from Sri Lanka, the intermediary organization should not have been satisfied with the limited information that was available. It should have made a bigger effort to obtain as much information as possible about the Dilani's origins and the circumstances under which her family had given her up.  In turn, the State could and should have monitored the intermediary organization and should have checked whether they acted in line with their legal obligations. In view of these infringements, the State could not simply rely on documents provided by the Sri Lankan authorities. According to the Appeals Court: 'such a formalistic and distant stance does not befit the State's own responsibility and obligations'.

The judgment can be accessed here (only in Dutch).

Dilani is represented by lawyer Lisa-Marie Komp.


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Prakken d'Oliveira, formerly known as Böhler, is a law firm with expertise and experience in asylum and immigration law, European law, administrative law, international criminal law and human rights. Our lawyers provide advice and conduct procedures before the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD), the District- and Appeals courts, the Administrative Law Division of the Dutch Council of State, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), the Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations (UN), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and other international tribunals.