Cambodia police arrest two for 'kidney trafficking'

PHNOM PENH • Two Cambodians have been arrested for allegedly trafficking at least 10 organ donors to India for kidney transplants worth tens of thousands of dollars, police said yesterday.

The two Phnom Penh residents - a man and a woman - were arrested on Wednesday for "kidney trafficking" over the past year, said Mr Keo Thea, the city's chief of anti-human trafficking police.

The suspects paid Cambodian donors US$5,800 (S$8,000) for their kidneys and then charged patients more than US$40,000 for the transplants, he said.

"The kidney transplants were performed in India," said Mr Keo Thea, adding that the patients were also Cambodian. He said the suspects confessed to the crime and were to be sent to court yesterday.

Trafficking is a widespread problem in Cambodia and police routinely investigate cases linked to the sex trade, forced marriage or slavery. But organ trafficking - a trade more common in places such as India and Nepal - is rarer.

The complicity of donors, who are often compelled by poverty, makes the under-reported crime difficult to expose.

In 2015, three Cambodians were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years' jail in the country's first kidney-trafficking case. They had persuaded poor Cambodians to sell their organs to wealthy compatriots undergoing dialysis in Thailand.

Globally, the billion-dollar organ black market is fuelled by a shortage of organs and a soaring number of patients waiting for transplants.

According to World Health Organisation, about 10,000 black market transplants are carried out yearly, a problem that often involves international crime.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Cambodia police arrest two for 'kidney trafficking''. Print Edition | Subscribe