The National Police on Friday urged anti-human trafficking police officers and relevant authorities to improve efforts to educate the public that surrogacy is a crime in the Kingdom.
General Youk Sokha, deputy chief of the National Police, said at an annual conference on human trafficking that police officers have to directly explain to people, especially women, that surrogacy is considered a transnational human trafficking crime.
“There are still surrogacy cases in Cambodia, so in order to stop more cases from happening the authorities should improve efforts to go down to the people in communities to explain to them about this issue,” she said. “We have to educate them that surrogacy is illegal.”
According to a National Police report, police cracked down on 104 cases of human trafficking last year, 47 cases fewer than in 2017.
It said that nearly 200 suspects were arrested, including about 20 foreigners, and more than 200 victims were rescued.
Interior Minister Sar Kheng said last year that surrogacy degrades women and affects morality in the country. He called on all women not to get involved in surrogacy to make a living.
“It is illegal, it is a sin and it is immoral,” said Mr Kheng.
On November 14, Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged 18 people connected to a surrogacy business which was foiled in Sen Sok district.
Police had raided a house hosting surrogates in the district and arrested 13 pregnant women and two men.
Police later identified three more people involved who remain at large and were charged in absentia. All 18 were charged with human trafficking.
In May last year, Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles and two Cambodians, who were found guilty of running a surrogacy business in the Kingdom in 2016, were released from prison after serving their prison terms.
In 2017, Ms Davis-Charles, Pech Rithy and Samrith Chan Chakriya were sentenced by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to 18 months in jail each for their role in the surrogacy business that began in Thailand and moved to Cambodia after a Thai crackdown.
Ms Davis-Charles ran a surrogacy operation that catered to Australian clients, including same-sex couples.
She was found guilty of being an intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman, and of fraudulent requests for documents.