Police yesterday revealed that Tammy Davis-Charles, an Australian nurse found guilty for her role in a surrogacy business, was quietly released from prison in May.
Ms Davis-Charles was released along with her former colleagues Pech Rithy and Samrith Chan Chakriya.
“All of them were released on May 22 because they finished serving their sentences,” said Lieutenant General Be Tea Leng, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s General Prison Department. “The Australian woman also paid her $1,000 fine to the state.”
Ms Davis-Charles was arrested by police along with Mr Rithy and Ms Chan Chakriya in November 2016 in Phnom Penh.
In 2017, Ms Davis-Charles and the two Cambodians were sentenced by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court 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.
In January, Ms Davis-Charles filed an appeal to reduce her sentence, citing health problems concerning her eyes and skin, but the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision.
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.
During her trial, Ms Davis-Charles admitted that she came to Cambodia to take up the surrogacy business in 2015 after the practice was outlawed in Thailand.
She said she received $50,000 for each baby from parents abroad. She paid $10,000 to each Cambodian woman for carrying a baby, as well as giving Mr Rithy from $400 to $1,500 for expenses for preparing birth certificates and related documents.
Since her arrest, the government has begun preparing a draft law to make surrogacy legal with a range of measures to protect women. Surrogacy is a controversial issue in the region and has been banned by India, Nepal and Thailand.