The Netherlands on Thursday launched an investigation into claims that government officials were involved in illegal adoptions from Brazil and other countries for three decades.
The probe will start with Brazil and then move on to Bangladesh, Colombia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, covering the period from 1967 to 1998, legal protection minister Sander Dekker said.
The inquiry will also examine whether there was an official attempt to keep the involvement of Dutch officials outside the police investigation, Dekker said.
After examining the Brazilian cases, the inquiry will look into countries were there were "signs of possible abuses in the past", namely Colombia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, he added.
The investigation was sparked by a freedom of information request about one adoption case from Brazil, which then raised questions about a number of others.
"This information contains indications of a possible active involvement of one or more persons associated with the Dutch government in illegal adoptions from Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s," Dekker said in a letter to MPs announcing the probe.
"I take this information very seriously. These signals about possible active involvement of Dutch government officials should not be ignored."
The claims involve Dutch couples allegedly travelling to Brazil, pretending that a Brazilian child was their own and then taking it back to the Netherlands, the Dutch government said in a statement.
They would then be registered as Dutch in the civil registry of the Netherlands, it said.
Dutch police investigated the matter in the early 1980s and found 42 examples of "criminal acts" but the cases were dismissed, the statement added, without saying why.
The inquiry will begin in early 2019 and will take at least one year.-AFP