‘Trafficker’ surrogate mothers detained in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - Three women were temporarily detained in Prey Sar prison for their involvement in a case in which they acted as surrogate mothers and delivered their children to Chinese nationals in Vietnam.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday ruled to temporarily
detain three women in Prey Sar prison for their involvement in a case in
which they acted as surrogate mothers and delivered their children to
Chinese nationals in Vietnam.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking
Department and juvenile protection police officers sent 32-year-old Seng
Chanda, Phuon Sinuon, 32 and Sat Saruon, 31, to court after they were
arrested in Vietnam.

They are all residents of Ang Snuol district’s Tuol Pich commune in Kandal province.

The women have been charged with two criminal offences and face more
than 20 years in prison if found guilty, said Phnom Penh Municipal Court
spokesman Y Rin.

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge decided to temporarily
detain the three at Correctional Centre 2 under Article 16 of the Law on
Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and Article
332 of the Criminal Code."

“We charged them with trafficking transnational persons and [acting
as an] intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman,”
Rin told The Post.

According to Article 332 of the Criminal Code, acting as an
intermediary for monetary gain between a person or a couple desiring to
adopt a child and a woman agreeing to bear the child with the intent to
give up the child is punishable by imprisonment from one to six months
and a fine from 100,000 to one million riel ($25 to $245).

Article 16 of the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual
Exploitation stipulates that the act of selling, buying or exchanging a
person for cross-border transfer to outside of Cambodia is punishable by
imprisonment of seven to 20 years.

Chhiv Phally, the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and
Juvenile Protection Department director, said the three women were
detained by Vietnamese police and returned to Cambodia after they
illegally crossed into the country to deliver their children to Chinese
nationals for $8,000 per child.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with human rights group Licadho, told
The Post on Thursday that he was saddened by the court’s decision to
charge the three, saying 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 are forced to become surrogate mothers because they
are so desperate for money should be seen as victims. Sam Ath also
requested the court to reconsider the charges and to find the brokers
behind the surrogacy agreement.

“What is important is that the government should make an announcement
broadly over the issue and should publicly discuss [illegal surrogacy]
so that people understand it,” he said.

Cambodia has cracked down on 43 cases of illegal surrogacy, with most of the babies sent to China.

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