Cambodian sentenced Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles

Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles sentenced in shock verdict for Cambodian child surrogacy racket

MELBOURNE nurse Tammy Davis-Charles has been sentenced to a Phnom Penh prison after a shock guilty verdict over a Cambodian child surrogacy racket.

The 49-year-old mother of six, who herself has twin boys conceived using a Thai surrogate, had tearfully begged for release from Cambodia’s notorious and overcrowded Prey Sar prison. But her pleas for mercy because that she has “lost everything” and contracted cancer in prison fell on deaf ears.

Davis-Charles was convicted of falsifying birth certificates to take surrogate Khmer babies back to Australia through her Fertility Solutions PGD business, the Phnom Penh Post reported. Phnom Penh municipal judge Sor Lina delivered his shock verdict on Thursday and sentenced Davis-Charles and two co-accused to 18 months.

The three were convicted of being intermediaries between a pregnant woman and an adoptive parent, and fraudulently obtaining documents, including the birth certificates.
For her role in Cambodia’s much-maligned surrogacy industry, Davis-Charles was also ordered to pay a fine of 4 million riel, or about $1000. Her Cambodian co-accused, nurse Samrith Chakriya and commerce ministry official Penh Rithy were each fined 2 million riel, or $500.

The verdict was delivered while Cambodia was still drafting laws for surrogacy. Davis-Charles’ surrogacy business operated out of Thailand until a crackdown following the controversial 2014 “Baby Gammy” case forced her out. Davis-Charles moved to nearby Cambodia where the industry operated in secrecy.

People from Western countries desperate to be parents paid up to $50,000 for a baby born to mostly poor Cambodian surrogates, who received a percentage.

Last October, the Cambodian Ministry of Health banned the practice, deeming it human trafficking.

On November 4, Davis-Charles posted on her Fertility Solutions PGD Facebook page a hint that she knew the authorities were coming for her. “There are lots of rumours floating around at present about Cambodia closing down,” she posted. “The Government are reviewing laws. Honestly it could go either way. “Please be warned do not sign up with anyone trying to push you through!!!!. “As you will most likely be caught up in the end when the baby is born which becomes a nightmare.”

On November 20, Cambodian police arrested her and incarcerated her in Prey Sar prison.
Prey Sar has four wings known as “bloks” and overcrowding runs to more than 20 inmates sharing a 17 square metre cell.

Police claimed she was involved in a money-making racket in which marriage documents between surrogate Khmer mothers and donor fathers were forged. Davis-Charles claimed to have assisted 23 Cambodian surrogates in her capacity as a nurse, paid them and signed their contracts with intended parents as a witness. Eighteen of the surrogates were carrying babies for Australians.

In the wake of Davis-Charles’ arrest, Cambodian authorities declared an amnesty for babies already born.

However it is unclear how many of the babies were handed to the clients who paid Davis-Charles.
She denied she recruited surrogates or falsified documents.

In the municipal court, Davis-Charles and Samrith Chakriya broke down in tears and pleaded for their release.

Davis-Charles said she had not seen her young twin boys for the eight months since her arrest, and that she was suffering from cancer in her left eye. Ms Chakriya has said previously she had no idea her work as a nurse and translator for Davis-Charles could lead to her arrest, and begged to be returned to her infant daughter.

The verdict and sentence is a blow for Ms Davis-Charles’ family who last year launched a campaign with a hashtag #freetammydavis. Ms Davis-Charles’ sons, Dylan Charles, posted on Facebook “We are all stepping up to the plate and pushing with forces.”

Bizarrely, Dylan Charles was detained in January after allegedly being found disoriented and shirtless on the streets of Phnom Penh.

The Cambodia Daily reported Dylan Charles was arrested for throwing stones at cars in Phnom Penh, with an officer saying Mr Charles had “lost his mind”.
Mr Charles was deported back to Australia in March.


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