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Cambodia Charges 18 People in Surrogacy Case

FILE - An appeals court upheld the prison sentence, Jan. 7, 2018, of Tammy Davis-Charles, upper right, the Australian woman who convicted of providing commercial surrogacy services in Cambodia.

A Cambodian court has charged 18 people, including 11 pregnant women, with violating laws against surrogate births.

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman said the 11 women and four other people were charged Tuesday with surrogacy and human trafficking. Three more people were charged with conspiracy but did not appear.

The suspects were arrested last week in a police raid and charged under a law that specifically targets surrogacy, which was outlawed in 2016 after Cambodia became a popular destination for foreigners seeking women to give birth to their children.

Acting as an intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman carries a penalty of one to six months in prison. The human trafficking offense is punishable by seven to 15 years' imprisonment.