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Only half of surrogate paperwork approved

A surrogate mother pictured in a poor Cambodian neighbourhood in 2016. Just six applications have been approved by the court to allow foreign parents to leave the country with their babies.
A surrogate mother pictured in a poor Cambodian neighbourhood in 2016. Just six applications have been approved by the court to allow foreign parents to leave the country with their babies. Eliah Lillis

Only half of surrogate paperwork approved

Just half of an estimated dozen applications by parents trying to prove their DNA link to their baby born via a Cambodian surrogate have so far been approved by the Phnom Penh Municipal court, officials said yesterday.

Following an outright ban on the fraught practice of commercial surrogacy in Cambodia, where hundreds of babies are estimated to have been born to foreign couples, the Kingdom laid out guidelines in July last year, requiring intended parents to get DNA tests, have their paternity status verified by the courts and apply for exit visas through their embassies in order to legally take their babies home.

Sous Vichyea Randy, the court’s deputy administration chief, said six cases had been approved since late December, and another two decisions were pending.

Earlier this month, Chou Bun Eng, permanent vice chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said 12 cases had been lodged by intended parents.

But yesterday, she said she had approved just one exit visa, for an American couple.

“I want to emphasise that embassies are not cooperative with us. I have never received any requests from the embassies . . . The one case is from an individual who sent it directly to us,” she said.

The government’s guidelines also say that intended parents, brokers or surrogates connected to a child born after January 8 will face legal consequences.

“Currently we have not arrested any surrogate women who were after the deadline, and we keep looking for new cases,” Bun Eng added.

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