A senior investigator at rights group Adhoc has warned that regional economic integration will lead to a flood of Cambodians migrating elsewhere in search of jobs that pay better than those at home.
Lim Mony made the comment during a radio interview with VOA. She told the broadcaster that Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries need to do more to curb human trafficking. “The leaders of Asean have not opened their hearts to help the people in the region,” Ms. Mony said. “They just think about their own individual countries.”
Extreme poverty forces many Cambodians to seek illegal work in the region, but that can lead to slave-like conditions in numerous industries, from farming to commercial fishing, and from housekeeping to the sex trade, she said.
Yet Asean was formed for the countries in the region to help each other with such issues, Ms. Mony said. Trafficking in the region should be “abolished,” she said.
At an Asean ministerial meeting in Malaysia last week, representatives from each of the 10 Asean nations adopted a declaration against transnational crimes, including trafficking. As Asean heads toward greater economic integration, the differences in income of individual countries will continue to drive trafficking, Ms. Mony said.
In Cambodia, “the wages are small and the goods are expensive,” she said. “People are poor, they don’t want to receive information, they don’t have the ability to receive information, and they can only think about their daily work to support their lives,” she explained.
When the free flow of goods and services becomes part of Asean, she said, “Cambodian people will go to work abroad like water breaking the dam.” VOA