PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia will resume international adoptions in 2014, more than four years after suspending them over concerns about child exploitation, an official said Wednesday.
Deputy Social Affairs Minister Nim Thoth told reporters that foreigners interested in adopting Cambodian children would be able to make applications in the next year. A specific timeframe wasn't given.
"I can say that we will definitely make sure the process goes ahead in 2014 — the sooner the better," Thoth said.
Cambodia banned international adoptions in 2009 amid concerns that some children were being trafficked. These concerns had already led the U.S., U.K., France and other key countries to ban adoptions from Cambodia in 2001.
Cambodia lifted its international adoption ban in early 2013, but the lack of protection mechanisms and trained staff had delayed the opening of adoption applications, said Angelique Reid, a U.N. Children's Fund communications officer.
"UNICEF is pleased that the Government announced its commitments to ensure that resources including human and financial resources are in place to gradually resume new inter-country applications in 2014," she said in an email Wednesday.
"UNICEF re-emphasizes that essential safeguards to ensure the proper case management of adoptions need to be in place before the resumption of adoptions in Cambodia," she said, adding that "the resumption of adoptions should therefore take place gradually."
U.S. Embassy spokesman John Simmons said the U.S. position is unchanged. The embassy website states that Cambodia does not have adequate child protection mechanisms to allow adoptions to the U.S. to resume.
The British Embassy in Phnom Penh did not immediately respond to questions about its ban.
Nim Thoth said about 3,800 Cambodian children were adopted by foreigners between 1987 and 2009, many going to the U.S., U.K., France and Italy.