Cambodia upholds jail term for Australian in surrogacy case

PHNOM PENH: An appeals court on Monday upheld the prison sentence of an Australian woman convicted of providing commercial surrogacy services in Cambodia.

Judge Kim Dany said the appeals court found the lower court conviction of Tammy Davis-Charles complied with Cambodian law and therefore upheld the verdict. She did not take questions from media during the court appearance.

Davis-Charles is serving one and a half years in prison after being convicted last August. During the court appearance last year, Davis-Charles said she has "lost everything" since her arrest and wants to be reunited with her family in Australia, including her twin sons.

Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016 after becoming a popular destination for would-be parents seeking women to give birth to their children.

Davis-Charles was arrested in November 2016, within weeks of the ban.

She has said she launched her business in Cambodia only after consulting three local lawyers who assured her the clinic was legal. The surrogates were paid $10,000 for each pregnancy, she has said.

Surrogacy costs are much lower in developing countries than in nations such as the United States and Australia, where services cost around $150,000. The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after being restricted in neighboring Thailand, in India and in Nepal.

After Cambodia's crackdown, the trade has shifted to neighboring Laos.

The judge said Davis-Charles could appeal to the Supreme Court if she is not satisfied with Monday's court decision.