The Ministry of Justice has finished a draft law on surrogacy and it was yesterday supported by the United Nations Rapporteur to Cambodia on her second day of a 10-day mission to the Kingdom.
Rhona Smith, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, yesterday met with Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and discussed a range of issues, including the draft surrogacy law.
Surrogacy has been a controversial issue in the region and has been banned by India, Nepal and Thailand.
It is not specifically covered by Cambodia’s Criminal Code, but cases have been caught up in provisions of the Law on Human Trafficking.
In August 2017, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles and two Cambodian to 18 months in jail each for their roles in a surrogate baby business.
All were found guilty of being intermediaries between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman, and of fraudulent requests for documents.
The government then began its work on drafting a surrogacy law and the Justice Ministry announced its progress yesterday after the meeting with Ms Smith.
Chin Malin, undersecretary of state at the Justice Ministry, told reporters after the meeting that Ms Smith expressed support for the draft law that has been created in order to avoid commercial human trafficking.
“We have finished the first draft of the surrogacy law,” Mr Malin said. “We told her the main principles of the draft law are to protect the rights of children and women.”
“She has volunteered to help us review the first draft and give feedback in order to make a good law and comply with international standards,” he added.
Mr Malin said the draft law would be shared with Ms Smith, and then also with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for further discussions.
The surrogacy law is very important to guarantee the rights of children and women and has nine chapters and 62 articles, he added.
“If there is no law to control surrogacy it will become a negative issue that impacts women and children intended to serve commercial human trafficking,” Mr Malin said.
Ms Smith also raised concerns during yesterday’s meeting about recent Penal Code amendments made by the government that criminalise insulting the King, saying that it may restrict freedom of speech.
“My concerns with amendments on legislation in Cambodia should be carefully analysed and advanced with consolation to comply with international human rights standards,” Ms Smith said.