International adoptions of Cambodian children almost doubled in 2006, with Italians, Austrians and French topping the list of adoptive parents, according to a report from the Interior Ministry’s Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department released Monday.
A total of 254 Cambodian children were adopted worldwide last year, compared to 129 in 2005, despite efforts by the US, Britain, and France to ban their citizens from adopting, the report said.
Among the children, 106 were adopted by Italians, 43 by Austrians and 28 by French.
Moa Sowatey, director of the Child Welfare Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said she could not comment as to why the number of adoptions doubled, but that France had recently lifted its ban on adoptions.
France had banned its citizens from adopting Cambodian children in 2003 because of concerns over a lack of regulation in the adoption procedures in the country.
Fabyene Mansencal, first secretary at the French Embassy, said that a protocol was signed with the Cambodian government June 8, 2006, to permit adoptions again, but that it had not yet been implemented. “A few details are to be settled before we can implement the protocol,” she said.
The report said that 14 children were adopted by US citizens, even though the US government stopped adoptions from Cambodia in December 2001 amid evidence of fraud in the adoption process.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle wrote in an e-mail that adoption applications initiated before the ban had been completed in November 2005.
Moreover, he said, “While our understanding was that the Cambodian government would no longer process adoptions by US citizens, it is possible that some Cambodian adoptions have taken place by Americans living outside the US.”
The report also listed 16 children as being adopted by people from Britain, which suspended adoptions from Cambodia on June 22, 2004, after concluding that the process involved falsified documents.
Kim Chantha, press secretary at the British Embassy, said that his government is working along with other European governments as well as the US to assess Cambodia’s situation regarding adoptions.
“The suspension of the adoption applies to UK citizens only, but British residents who reside outside the UK can still adopt children [from Cambodia],” he said.
In addition, the report noted that the department had handled nearly double the number of such cases as human trafficking, rape, debauchery and pornography last year, going from 398 cases in 2005 to 614. In these cases, the department arrested 670 suspects—18 of whom were foreign nationals—and 95 of them were convicted.
Ung Sokunthea, chief of the anti-trafficking department, wrote in the report that she was pleased with the results, despite the increase in the number of cases.
“I would like to thank those officers of trafficking and juvenile protection for trying their best and using measures to prevent and crackdown on human trafficking and rape on woman and children and gradually getting results,” she wrote.