Stephen M. Silverman
November 29, 2006 09:25 AM

A judge in Malawi will permit a coalition of 67 human-rights groups to move forward with their legal challenge to Madonna’s adoption of 1-year-old David Banda – and allow them to help decide if the singer is a fit mother.

In his Wednesday ruling in the Malawian capital, Judge Andrew Nyirenda said the human-rights organizations could be viewed as “friends of the court.”

The groups can therefore pursue the application for a full review of an interim 18-month custody order that allowed Madonna to take the child out of the country. The groups’ members can also be party to the assessment of the pop singer’s fitness as a mother.

“We want to be joined as a party to the assessment because we have a lot of legal issues we want to raise,” Justin Dzonzi of the coalition told reporters last month.

The groups had argued that the Malawian government cut legal corners to “fast-track” the adoption, and said regulations must be followed to protect children, the Associated Press reports.

Madonna has denied that she was given VIP treatment.

David is currently living with Madonna and her family in London. “David is amazing,” Madonna, speaking via satellite from a TV studio in London, said during an October interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“What really surprises me is how great my children are with him and how he’s transitioned so easily from living in Africa in an orphanage to living in our house,” she said.

In another setback to the pop star, her Nov. 22 NBC TV special attracted only 4.6 million viewers nationwide, according to the Nielsen ratings, The Washington Post reports.

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