Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is overhauling his nation’s overseas adoption system and wants to get Cambodia involved in the process, according to Australian media.
Abbott requested Attorney General George Brandis pursue fresh agreements and adoption negotiations, including with Cambodia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Kenya, the Sunday Telegraph reported this weekend.
The attorney general’s office did not respond to request for comment yesterday, a holiday in Australia.
However, the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh nixed the idea that adoptions might resume in the near future.
“As noted on the Australian Embassy website, the moratorium on foreigners adopting children from Cambodia under intercountry adoption arrangements, which came into force on 3 December 2009, remains in place,” an embassy spokesperson said via email.
In fact, Cambodia reversed its freeze on adoptions by foreigners living outside the country in 2013. Shortly thereafter, Italy became the first – and so far only– country to re-up its agreement with Cambodia, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Australia’s MoU lapsed in 2001, shortly after the US banned inter-country adoptions from the Kingdom due to fears of child trafficking and a perceived failure to uphold international laws.
“It’s not like that anymore; now adoptions go through strict laws and background checks” said Reung Rithiroth, chief of the adoption administration at the Social Affairs Ministry.
Rithiroth said that he would welcome negotiations with Australia, but has not yet been contacted.