Puth Serey, director of the Asian Orphans Association, denied ties with any US adoption agencies Tuesday, while a lawyer for his association asked municipal police to return 12 children being kept in a safe house.
“I don’t have any agencies,” Puth Serey said in a brief phone interview. “I just take care of the children, only feed them and care for them.”
Several US-based adoption agencies list Puth Serey and AOA as their “foreign facilitator” for Cambodian adoptions, according to the Web site www.cambodiaadopt.com.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with police and human rights workers, Chun Boravuth, a lawyer for the AOA, asked police Tuesday to return the 12 children who are being held by human rights groups pending resolution of child-trafficking allegations against AOA.
Naly Galabru, who attended the meeting for Licadho, said the human rights group “applied to the court for temporary custody” on Monday.
Chhun Boravuth, however, argued that it’s not appropriate for Licadho to pursue the matter in court. Still, police did not release the children to AOA and set another meeting for Friday, when Licadho’s lawyer will be able to attend.
The children have been in the safe house since Sept 3, when police arrested the four AOA employees taking care of them in Tuol Kok district under suspicion child trafficking.
The workers were released the next day after the AOA produced documents showing they had legal custody of the children.
Puth Serey said the children in his orphanage come from hospitals and mothers who have died of AIDS. He also said he has never heard of Angel’s Haven Outreach, one of the adoption agencies that claims it employs him and AOA as its foreign facilitators.
On the Cambodia Adopt List, a public e-mail list for parents adopting children from Cambodia, Puth Serey or AOA have been mentioned in about 100 e-mails during the past month.
Included among them are e-mails from Angel’s Haven Outreach officials, purporting to give information to prospective parents from Puth Serey.
(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)