The National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking yesterday unveiled its plan to seek bail for 32 pregnant women who were charged with human trafficking following a raid on a surrogacy business in the capital in June.
Its chairwoman Chou Bun Eng said after a meeting at the Interior Ministry yesterday that a group of lawyers are currently preparing documents to submit to a judge to seek bail for the women.
“We asked lawyers to help them but I am not sure what the judge will decide,” she noted. “It depends on how those women answer questions asked by the judge.”
“Some women usually claim that they get involved in the surrogacy business because they need money to pay debts. The judge will ask them if they will sell the babies to earn money after birth. This is a factor to consider,” Ms Bun Eng added.
She noted that the National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking offered legal assistance for the bail requests in order to ensure that the surrogate children are taken care of.
“The committee wants to ensure that the children will enjoy proper living conditions, like other children, after they are born,” Ms Bun Eng said. “If the surrogate mothers can convince the judge that they will look after their children, then the authorities will help them.”
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophanna could not be reached for comment.
The 32 women were arrested when police raided a house in Russey Keo district on June 21. They were charged with human trafficking along with five members of a surrogacy ring.
Ms Bun Eng noted that the pregnant women are currently receiving treatment at a hospital under police supervision and that Agape International Missions is assisting them.
Agape International Missions CEO Don Brewster could not be reached for comment yesterday.
An official at AIM, however, confirmed that the organisation provided a group of lawyers to work with the National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking in an effort to seek bail for the 32 women.
According to a police report, the 32 women were hired by the ring’s leader and promised $10,000 to carry the babies. They were given $500 cash up front and then $300 per month while carrying their babies, the report said.
After delivery, they were to get the remaining $6,000 from the ring’s leader, who was operating the scheme under the business name Fertility Solutions PGD.
In a similar case in August last year, the court sentenced Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles and two Cambodians to 18 months in jail each for their role in a surrogacy business that began in Thailand and moved to Cambodia after a Thai crackdown.