A judge has sentenced an Australian and two Cambodians to jail for offering foreign couples outlawed services. The Australian nurse claimed she didn't know commercial surrogacy was illegal in Cambodia.
A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced an Australian nurse and two Cambodian associates to 18 months in prison for running a commercial surrogacy clinic in the country.
Last year, Cambodia outlawed commercial surrogacy services after becoming a popular destination for would-be parents seeking a surrogate mother to bear their children.
Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles claimed she didn't know that commercial surrogacy was illegal in Cambodia, saying three local consultants assured her of its legality.
However, the 49-year-old was "aware that launching surrogacy services was illegal in Cambodia but she continued working and convincing Cambodian women to be surrogate mothers," the judge said.
According to court documents, Davis-Charles charged couples up to $70,000 (59,000 euros) for surrogacy services.
She also paid the Cambodian surrogate mothers up to $12,000 to carry the children. The women told the court they had not been coerced by Davis-Charles or her associates.
The judge noted that Davis Charles provided the services to 23 couples from the Australia and the US.
Besides serving one and a half years in prison, Davis-Charles was fined $1,000 while her two Cambodian associates Penh Rithy and Samrith Chan Chakrya were fined $500 each.
Following commercial surrogacy bans in Cambodia and Thailand, would-be parents have now turned to Laos to find surrogate mothers.
ls/rt (Reuters, AP)