Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Surrogate mothers’ questioned in court



‘Surrogate mothers’ questioned in court

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Three Cambodian women arrive at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday for questioning after allegedly acting as surrogate mothers and attempting to sell their babies to Chinese nationals in Vietnam. SWIFT NEWS

‘Surrogate mothers’ questioned in court

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday questioned three women who were allegedly hired to be surrogate mothers and sell their babies to Chinese nationals after the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department & juvenile protection police sent them to court following their arrest in Vietnam.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong told The Post on Tuesday that the three Cambodian women were being questioned by a prosecutor.

The alleged surrogate mothers hail from Kandal province, said Chhiv Phally, the director of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department. One woman is aged 31 while the other two are 32.

Phally told The Post on Tuesday that Vietnamese police detained the women inside Vietnamese territory and returned them to Cambodia because they had crossed the border illegally.

He said they had travelled to Vietnam to deliver their children to Chinese nationals, with each baby being sold for $8,000.

Phally said he could not provide more detailed information because he first had to report to National Police chief General Neth Savoeun.

Chou Bun Eng, the Ministry of Interior’s secretary of state and permanent vice-chairperson of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said: “So far, we have been able to crack down on 43 cases of surrogate mothers."

“Most of the children born to surrogate mothers were intended to be sent to China and a number of cases are still being investigated by the court."

“The three surrogate mothers who were sent to court on Tuesday are new cases that have recently been busted.”

She said that even though the authorities continue to take action against offenders, people still committed the crime.

Bun Eng said draft laws that stipulate the punishment for surrogate motherhood and child trafficking are currently being reviewed and debated by the Ministry of Interior.

The next session to review the draft laws, Bun Eng said, will take place later this month.

She said that while the laws to address this issue have not yet been approved or published, some punishments for the crime can be found in the Criminal Code, so offenders can still be punished under existing laws.

“The surrogate mothers are not paid to be pregnant, but the infants are sent abroad without any proper legal permission because we have no laws that allow the sending of infants abroad. Therefore, crackdowns continue to be made but we cannot stop all the offenders. The authorities are investigating many different criminal activities."

“In 2017, the authorities offered them a chance. The government announced that anybody who wanted a baby through a surrogate mother or would like to confirm an infant has their DNA can come to the court to ask for permission."

“They were given one year to fulfil any legal procedures. However, at the time, no one came and the government discontinued the procedure. From then on, we started to crack down and punish offenders,” Bun Eng said.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Licadho), said the factors leading people to commit the crime are a poor standard of living and a lack of awareness of the law.

He said women who feel forced to act as surrogate mothers because they are so desperate for money should be seen as victims.

Although Cambodia has several laws about the crime, Sam Ath said, they are not clearly stated and it is thus difficult to raise awareness, so people’s understanding of the issue remains limited.

“It’s a new problem in Cambodia. The authorities’ ability to take action and to stamp it out remain limited because they don’t have much experience of the issue. Most women don’t know that it’s illegal,” he said.

Acknowledging that the draft law was under discussion, Sam Ath nevertheless called for the authorities to put in more effort to raise awareness of current laws and educate people about the issue of surrogate motherhood.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there