The National Committee for Counter Trafficking yesterday said it has no plan to seek bail for three women placed in pre-trial detention after they were charged over their involvement in a surrogacy business.
The three women are currently detained in Prey Sar prison after Phnom Penh Municipal Court alleged that they acted as surrogate mothers and one of them delivered a child and sent the child to Chinese nationals in Vietnam.
NCCT vice chairman Chou Bun Eng yesterday said all three were surrogates, and one of them was also a broker. Ms Bun Eng said although the NCCT has intervened in the past, it will not do so this time.
“We will not take any action on this case because it’s different from previous cases,” she said. “The three women clearly knew it was illegal, but they were still involved in it.”
“This is a new kind of crime,” Ms Bun Eng added. “Pregnant women are brought to a neighbouring country to deliver children.”
Ms Bun Eng noted that one of the suspects was arrested in Vietnam and deported after she had already delivered a baby.
“This time, we will let the court take action and we will not intervene. The crime is getting worse,” she said. “They dare to travel overseas to deliver children.”
According to a police report, the three women, identified as 32-year-old Seng Chenda, 32-year-old Phoeun Sinoeun and 31-year-old Sat Saroun, were apprehended after they illegally crossed the Vietnamese border.
The report said the three women allegedly carried children for Chinese nationals for $8,000 per baby.
In April, the court granted bail for 43 pregnant women charged with human trafficking for allegedly being connected to a surrogate business foiled in the capital. NCCT lawyers intervened in the case.
She noted that officials from the Ministries of Interior, Women’s Affairs and Justice held a meeting on Tuesday to deliberate on the progress of the draft on surrogacy law.
Phun Puthborey, spokeswoman for the Women’s Affairs Ministry, yesterday said a working group will meet again next month to submit inputs on how other countries handle surrogacy.
“The current draft surrogacy law allows a childless couple to request for a baby through surrogacy because of humanitarian reasons, but not under certain conditions,” Mr Puthborey said. “However, we do not encourage women to treat it as a business to earn money.”
According to Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin, officials are currently studying recent cases in order to produce the law on surrogacy.
According to report issued by the NCCT on Tuesday, surrogacy as a business is becoming advanced as brokers still undermine laws. It said people are easily cheated to be involved in the business.