Australian surrogacy nurse found guilty and jailed for 18 months in Cambodia.

Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles has been jailed for one-and-a-half years by a Cambodian court for providing illegal surrogacy services in the country.

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, who was arrested in November, appeared stunned on Thursday as the Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge read the guilty verdict for her and two Cambodian associates.

Wearing orange prison clothes, the mother of six cried as she was led out of the courtroom and did not take questions from the media.

The court also ordered Davis-Charles to pay four million riel – about $A1200 – in fines.

Tammy Davis-Charles. Image via Facebook.

The Cambodian defendants, Samrith Chakriya and Penh Rithy, were also jailed for 18 months and fined two million riel each.

Chakrya, who served as an interpreter for Davis-Charles, cried when she heard the verdict and said she would appeal.

Sam Everingham, a director at Australian non-profit group Families Through Surrogacy said: "The 18-month sentence is, I believe, to many Australians very harsh given Tammy Charles' motivations were simply to help childless couples create a family.

"Her sentence also needs to be considered in the context of there being no clear laws around surrogacy in Cambodia at the time."


Davis-Charles said in previous court appearances she had "lost everything" since her arrest for providing commercial surrogacy services and wanted to be reunited with her family in Australia, including her five-year-old twin sons.

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 $US10,000 ($A12,500) for each pregnancy.

Judge Sor Lina said there was sufficient evidence to convict the three.

The judge said Davis-Charles was "aware that launching surrogacy services was illegal in Cambodia but she continued working and convincing Cambodian women to be surrogate mothers".

Australia’s fascination with women in prison overseas. Post continues below.

Developing countries are popular for surrogacy because costs are much lower than in countries such as the US and Australia, where surrogate services are about $US150,000 ($A188,000).

The surrogacy business boomed in the country after it was put under tight restrictions in neighbouring Thailand.

There were also crackdowns in India and Nepal.

Since then, the trade has shifted to neighbouring Laos.

During the trial, several Cambodian women who served as surrogates said they were not coerced.

A representative from the Australian embassy in attendance in court declined to comment.

Davis-Charles' family did not attend the sentencing.