The first draft of a law on surrogacy has now been completed by the Women’s Affairs Ministry, and at least seven foreign intended parents have applied to formally take their babies born through Cambodian surrogates home, a ministry official said.
Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state with the Interior Ministry and vice chair of the national committee to combat human trafficking, also said on Sunday that a Japanese couple whose baby was born to a Thai surrogate in Cambodia would have to apply to the courts to take her home.
The couple had brought their Thai surrogate mother to Cambodia after Thailand banned commercial surrogacy in July 2015. The baby girl, who is now 6 months old, was born after Cambodia cracked down on its own burgeoning surrogacy industry in October.
The court procedure will include submitting a DNA test and paperwork proving that the couple are the parents of the girl.
“We create a procedure for them, because [the surrogate] is not a Cambodian national, so there is a different way to address, but it has to go through the court too, with the confirmation from their embassy,” Ms. Bun Eng said.
She said she was informed about the couple by the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Guidelines for intended foreign parents to take surrogate babies to their home countries were formally announced by the government last month, ending a long wait for couples stuck in legal limbo.
According to a media report, nine applications have so far been sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. This number was denied by court spokesman Sous Vichearandy, but he was unable to confirm the correct figure.
Ms. Bun Eng said she was told by the Justice Ministry about two weeks ago that seven parents had submitted requests. These were couples from Germany, the U.S. and Australia, she added.
The draft law is awaiting feedback from the Justice Ministry and the finer points being debated, Ms. Bun Eng said.
“We are still thinking in what cases surrogacy can become a crime and could be allowed or not allowed,” she added.
Earlier this month, Australian surrogacy broker Tammy Davis-Charles, 49, and her two Cambodian associates were sentenced to 18 months in prison for helping connect foreign adoptive parents with Cambodian surrogates.
soumy@cambodiadaily.com
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