Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Surrogacy suspects charged in capital with trafficking



Surrogacy suspects charged in capital with trafficking

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian women arrested for their alleged involvement in an illegal surrogacy business, outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. TANG CHHIN Sothy/AFP

Surrogacy suspects charged in capital with trafficking

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor on Thursday charged a Chinese national and four Cambodian women with human trafficking and being intermediaries for surrogacy, while a government official said the women allegedly acting as surrogates could face charges as well.

On June 24, anti-human trafficking police in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district arrested five people allegedly running an illegal surrogacy agency and discovered 33 women in various stages of pregnancy living on the premises.

The 33 women are believed to have been acting as paid surrogates for Chinese clients.

Court Prosecutor Kuch Kimlong said he had already submitted a report to the office of investigative judges.

Sous Vichyea Randy, the court’s deputy administration chief, said the prosecutor charged all five under Article 16 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and Article 332 of the Criminal Code.

Based on Article 16, the five could face up to 20 years in prison because the “offence was committed by an organised group”.

Under Article 332 of the Criminal Code, which concerns being the intermediary to adoptive parents, they face one to six months in prison.

Chou Bun Eng, the permanent vice chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said the 33 pregnant women will be responsible for the raising of the children, despite the fact they have no genetic connection with the fetuses. Bun Eng said the women may have to face charges as well.

When asked what the women’s liability might be if they got an abortion, she said: “I don’t know what the court would say. If they just seek an abortion to ‘delete the evidence’ to get themselves out of legal jeopardy, we would not let them do that.

“We feel it’s important for the women to be responsible for the children in their womb,” she said, adding that just because there is no genetic connection doesn’t mean they can’t be loving parents."

“Under Cambodian law, women are the mothers of children in their womb. Just because you are poor, does not mean you don’t think about the lives of others,” Bun Eng said, stressing that the 33 women haven’t been accused or charged with anything as yet.

Ministry of Women’s Affairs spokesman Phon Puthborey could not be reached for comment.

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

  • 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

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year