Five people accused of running an illegal surrogacy agency were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday and questioned by a prosecutor, said the municipal anti-trafficking police chief, Keo Thea.
“We have sent the five to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. I have not received the report about what they were charged with,” Thea said.
On Thursday, anti-human trafficking police arrested the five after a raid on a surrogacy agency. They were Chinese national Liu Qiang, 49; and Cambodians Svay Sinuch, 34; Noeun Sreylang, 27; Lim Sopheap, 19; and Thai Pheap, 43.
The raid also discovered 33 women in various stages of pregnancy, living on the agency’s premises. They were allegedly paid to have children for its Chinese clients.
Thea said the 33 pregnant women will have to bear responsibility for the children when they are born.
“The children were born from the women’s womb, therefore, they have to take care of them . . . the children are theirs,” he said
He said the women could be punished under the law if they are found to have taken money to give up their children.
“They rented their wombs. The government already issued guidelines to stop this. According to the law, children belong to the womb it was born from. So women who take money and give up their children can be punished,” he said.
The director of the Phnom Penh Department of Social Affairs, Mom Chandany, said the pregnant women are being housed at an NGO. “The women now are safe at the NGO and it is caring for them,” she said.
Municipal court spokesman Ly Sophannam could not be reached for comment.