I've just watched again the second season episode "Cardassians" paying closer attention to the boy's fate than I did the first time round, and I still can't get my head around how the decision was reached to send him "home" to Cardassia.
We don't know how old Rugal is supposed to be but he looks about fifteen. He was orphaned at the age of four. He has never even seen his home planet as he wasn't born there.
So Cardassia isn't his home in any meaningful sense of the word, and the only close familial bonds are those forged with his adotive parents.
Of course you have to sympathize with Pa'Dar, but after all that time he simply has no right to claim Rugal like a possession. Well, according to his own understanding, he does
, since one assumes in Cardassian society, the blood claim trumps all others, and the technicality of biological relation can't be denied. However, Rugal was legally
adopted under Bajoran law, which was the only law applying at the time, and he is now on a joint Bajoran-Federation run station where Cardassian law also has no authority.
Most importantly, what about Rugal's feelings in the matter??
Surely these should be considered above all else, and it is obvious where he wants to stay.
We're not shown how the final decision is actually reached, but Sisko's justification for it in his logbook entry sounds lame and unconvincing. Rugal has been "the victim of a conspiracy" - true - and it is "time for his healing to begin".
Excuse me?? How does it help the boy to be ripped out of the only familiar environment he knows, to be taken away from people who care for him and have shown him nothing but love and affection? The conspiracy has nothing to do with anything as far as his wellbeing is concerned, and there can be precious little good to come out of a relationship with a father who shows up in your life like an officially sanctioned kidnapper.
According to the much vaunted Federation ethic, Rugal's welfare and therefore his own stated wishes should have been the prime consideration and guiding principle here. The Federation certainly doesn't subscribe to Cardassian notions of right and wrong in matters of jurisdiction. That's why I can't for the life of me understand this judgement. It seems to go against the Federation's own ideals - i.e. no coercion, no individuals made to suffer intentionally.
Was Rugal just used as a kind of diplomatic bartering chip, a goodwill gesture,as it were, to an uneasy ally? ...
...Certainly, Rugal should have learned something of his heritage beyond the crimes that his people committed, and it would be good for him to get to know some of his blood relatives. However I believe this should have taken the form of arranging visits by them on Bajor, or on the station. Simply taking him off to live with effective strangers in a strange place can only be traumatizing and there's no reasonable justification for it.