Orphanage Director Denies Connections to US Agencies

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)



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