Egypt extends detention of mother held for ‘false news’

A screenshot of the interview with Zubaida, whose mother was ordered to remain in jail for 45 days after prosecutors appealed a ruling on Tuesday to release her. (Screen grab ON E TV)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Egypt extends detention of mother held for ‘false news’

  • Umm Zubeida has been in custody since March 2018 over accusations that she belonged to a “terrorist group” and spread false news

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Thursday extended the detention of a woman accused of spreading false news by telling the BBC her daughter had been forcibly disappeared, a judicial source said.
Mona Mahmud Mohammad, also known as Umm Zubeida, was ordered to remain in jail for 45 days after prosecutors appealed a ruling on Tuesday to release her, the source added.
Mohammad has been in custody since March 2018 over accusations that she belonged to a “terrorist group” and spread false news.
She was featured in a BBC report aired in February last year saying her daughter had been the victim of a forced disappearance.
The report, which stirred a strong backlash from the government, also detailed other allegations of people being jailed, tortured or disappeared in Egypt.
Mohammad’s daughter later appeared on a local television show saying she had run away from her mother, married and had a child.
Egypt’s State Information Service, which regulates foreign media, had called on the British broadcaster to retract its report or face a government boycott.
The BBC responded that it stood by “the integrity of our reporting teams.”
Rights groups have repeatedly accused Egyptian authorities of carrying out a widespread crackdown on dissent, but the government denies the allegations.


Cambodian women face surrogacy charges after Vietnam births

A woman rides a motor-cart loaded with bananas in Phnom Penh on July 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 56 min 12 sec ago
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Cambodian women face surrogacy charges after Vietnam births

  • The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after it was put under tight restrictions in neighboring Thailand. There also were crackdowns in India and Nepal

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Three Cambodian women have been charged with violating surrogacy and human trafficking laws after they gave birth to babies they delivered to Chinese nationals in Vietnam, a court official said Friday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ei Rin said the women, aged 31 and 32, are being detained pending further investigation after being charged on Thursday.
Chhiv Phally, the director of the Interior Ministry’s Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said the three women were detained by Vietnamese police and returned to Cambodia after they illegally crossed into the country to deliver their children to Chinese nationals for $8,000 per child, reported the English-language Phnom Penh Post newspaper.
Cambodia’s anti-surrogacy law carries a penalty of one to six months in prison, while the human trafficking charge, involving crossing borders, is punishable by 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The anti-surrogacy law was intended to target intermediaries between parents and surrogates, but in the absence of a more appropriate law, has also been applied against women who carry surrogate pregnancies and give birth. The government has said it is drafting a new law to cover surrogacy, but it is not known when it will be ready.
Cambodia hurriedly passed its first law specifically targeting surrogacy in 2016 as the country was becoming a popular destination for foreign would-be parents seeking women to give birth to their children.
Developing countries are popular for surrogacy because costs are much lower than in countries such as the United States and Australia, where surrogate services can cost around $150,000. The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after it was put under tight restrictions in neighboring Thailand. There also were crackdowns in India and Nepal.
After Cambodia’s crackdown, would-be parents shifted to seek out surrogates in neighboring Laos.
In December, 32 Cambodian women who were charged with human trafficking for serving as surrogate mothers were released from detention after agreeing to keep the babies rather than giving them up as originally planned.