Foreign parents of babies born to Cambodian surrogate mothers will be expected to give the government annual welfare updates until the children reach 18, an Interior Ministry official said on Thursday, a measure one expert described as unenforceable.
The requirement—part of the guidelines for parents seeking to take their newborns out of the country—will be announced in the next few days, said Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state with the Interior Ministry and vice chair of the national committee to combat human trafficking.
The plan comes nearly eight months after Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy, leaving dozens of foreign parents in legal limbo.
Parents will need to submit applications through their embassies in Cambodia to start the exit process. As part of this, they will need to explain why they used surrogacy services in Cambodia and commit to updates for 18 years, Ms. Bun Eng said.
“We want to have confirmation that they are actually taking the baby to raise and also certify that they have to make a report of the development of the baby until they are 18 years old, once a year,” she said. “Because the baby is born through a Cambodian, we want to figure out the life journey of the baby. We want to avoid the taking of a baby to commit crime, to be trafficked.”
The report could be sent through their embassies in Cambodia or to the Cambodian Embassy in their countries, Ms. Bun Eng added. She said the procedures—agreed to by the interior, justice and foreign affairs ministries on Wednesday after a weeklong meeting—will be released to the public today or Monday.
Stephen Page, an Australian lawyer who specializes in surrogacy, on Thursday wrote in a message that the government had “no power” to force people to send yearly reports about their child.
“This measure is more about face saving by the government to say it is concerned about children when the measure is not enforceable, will not be complied with and has been put in place to divert attention from the government’s failure to act on surrogacy in the first place,” he said.