Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surrogacy exit rules released, with parents required to provide yearly updates



Surrogacy exit rules released, with parents required to provide yearly updates

Interior Minister Sar Kheng presides over a meeting to disseminate guidelines on surrogate infant exit procedures yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Interior Minister Sar Kheng presides over a meeting to disseminate guidelines on surrogate infant exit procedures yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Surrogacy exit rules released, with parents required to provide yearly updates

Parents of children born to surrogate mothers in Cambodia will be required to provide the government with yearly updates of their child’s mental and physical development, according to new guidelines officially disseminated to embassies for the first time yesterday.

A total of 19 embassies met with Interior Minister Sar Kheng and other officials to receive a four-page list of guidelines, part of an “exit strategy” for babies born in a period of legal limbo.

As officials previously suggested, the guidelines will require parents to collect a series of documentation – including their permanent address, their living conditions, their income, their reasons for pursuing surrogacy, the family book of their surrogate, the baby’s birth certificate and evidence they have not committed a criminal offence in the past three years – and have them verified at their embassy.

At the same time, fathers claiming parentage must submit documents to the court and provide DNA evidence of their genetic link to the child.

The guidelines also require the parents to provide a contract saying they will provide the government with progress updates on the development of their children – both mentally and physically – once per year through their embassy in Cambodia.

Chou Bun Eng, permanent vice chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said the embassies needed to cooperate with the government, as they knew which of their citizens were attempting to leave the country with babies born via surrogate mothers.

“We need everyone to apply; until now we found that surrogate fathers do not come and apply yet,” Bun Eng said. “We found some bad experiences; some people just try to bring the child outside the country by other means. They have to pass through their own embassy.”

She said if parents tried to evade the Cambodian courts and legal guidelines, they could not necessarily be trusted to take care of the child. “We just to try to ensure the safety of the child and to avoid the trafficking or the smuggling of the child,” she said.

Several parents have left the country with their newborns via Vietnam or Singapore. One parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was “impossible to wait”.

“I chose Cambodia in the beginning because America was too expensive. I didn’t have the money to stay much longer than I already had to do,” he said.

“I couldn’t lose my job also to stay and wait until the guidelines were finalised.”

Sam Everingham of Families Through Surrogacy said it was “a relief to see that these guidelines have finally been circulated”.

“Surrogacy is a sensitive topic and should be well regulated, so Cambodia’s efforts here are welcome,” he said.

“The new guidelines may well add to the time and expense of the process, but one would hope that Cambodian courts would expedite these cases out of respect for the surrogate and newborn children.”

The guidelines, signed by Kheng on June 4, are an interim measure. After January 8 next year, parents and surrogates involved in the banned practice will face legal action.

To that end, the Ministry of Interior said it would strengthen border checkpoints to avoid babies being taking out of the country “illegally”, and would continue to investigate “suspicious” pregnancy cases, or any deception used to take newborns out of Cambodia.

Although a law on surrogacy is still being drafted, the Health Minister issued a sudden ban on the practice in October last year.

One month later, Cambodia launched a landmark “surrogacy” case against now-jailed Australian national Tammy Davis-Charles. A verdict in her case – in which she is charged not for surrogacy but for possessing false documents and acting as an intermediary between a pregnant woman and an adoptive parent – is expected next week.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and