An Israeli man, recognised by the authorities as a paedophile, has been given legal custody of a four-year-old girl. The child is Indian and was adopted through an arrangement with a surrogate in that country.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the authorities are aware of the situation but under prevailing laws cannot act to remove the child from her new father.

The situation came to light when the Israel National Council for the Child (NCC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for children's right received an anonymous email. After an independent investigation, it was found the man had served 18 months in jail for sexually abusing young children.

The NCC then informed police, social workers and the girl's school of his prior convictions. However, because of the laws, the child remains in his care. The man has been kept under observation though and ordered to undergo psychological counselling.

The numbers of babies born via foreign surrogates has seen a surge in Israel, with many potential parents (particularly homosexual couples) not allowed the same practice under Israeli law.

"In the past six years, 200 children have come to Israel via foreign surrogacy," NCC executive director Yitzhak Kadman said, adding, "This case is a good wakeup call that there are changes that have to be made."

Israeli couples who wish to adopt through surrogacy are required to attend rigorous interviews and be subject to stringent background checks. However, those adopting from foreign surrogates face an easier process. The situation is nowhere near the same in India, either for would-be parents or potential surrogates.

Israel health minister Yael German has been made aware of the situation, via a letter from the NCC, and has been quoted as saying the ministry is "considering new policies to secure the protection of children born in overseas surrogacies".