Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged three women with human trafficking in connection to a surrogacy business after they were arrested and deported from Vietnam.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong said the three women were charged for violating Article 16 on the suppression of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and Article 332 of the Criminal Code on being an intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant mother.
“Two of them are still pregnant and one delivered a baby already,” he said. “They were charged, but are not detained in prison. I cannot disclose any more information.”
Mr Kimlong noted that the judge will continue with legal procedures for the case.
According to a police report, the three women, Seng Chenda, 32, Phoun Sinoeun, 32, and Sat Saroun 31, were apprehended after they crossed the border illegally to Vietnam.
In the report, Ms Chenda said Ms Sinoeun persuaded her to carry a baby for a Chinese national and move from Kandal province to reside in Phnom Penh, noting that she will receive $8,000 once the job is finished.
On October 11, 2018, Ms Chenda and Ms Sinoeun met with seven Chinese men and women, and a Cambodian translator in Phnom Penh.
Ms Chenda said on October 25, a group of Chinese doctors injected sperm into her and gave her some cash for meals. She was also told that she would be provided money for daily expenses after she became pregnant.
On June 12, 2019, a group of Chinese nationals assisted Ms Chenda to apply for a passport and gave her $2,000 in cash, according to the police report.
On June 29, a Cambodian translator telephoned Ms Chenda and took her into a van, where she met two Chinese caretakers and Ms Saroun, another pregnant woman.
When they arrived in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet International Checkpoint, a Chinese man aided them with documents to cross the border into Vietnam.
The group took a taxi to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh railway station and took a train to Hanoi city, where they arrived two days later and met a group of Chinese nationals before they were all arrested by Vietnamese authorities.
When they were detained, one of the women delivered a baby on July 9, leading to Vietnamese authorities transferring the three Cambodian women to Cambodian authorities.
The remaining Chinese and Vietnamese nationals allegedly involved in the case remained in Vietnam for further legal procedures.
Chou Bun Eng, chairwoman of the National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking, yesterday said she received a report about the case regarding the three women, but was yet to consider any further action to be taken.
“I have just learned about this case, so I cannot make any specific comment now,” she said. “Regarding the surrogacy issue, I believe some hidden crimes are taking place with substantial means. It’s a challenge for our officials to address.”
Ms Bun Eng said officials of inter-ministerial levels have scheduled a meeting next week to update and further discuss on a draft law on surrogacy, in which relevant officials are at odds over the law due to humanitarian considerations.