Interior minister Sar Kheng yesterday ordered all police officers to step up investigations to track down and arrest the masterminds of human trafficking rings.
Presiding over the annual meeting of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking at the ministry, Mr Kheng noted that while efforts were being taken to crack down on human trafficking cases, more needed to be done to nab the masterminds.
“The reason why human trafficking cases still occur is because most victims who are rescued do not cooperate with the authorities,” he said. “I believe that local leaders of human trafficking rings are colluding with international masterminds.”
Mr Kheng noted that all police officers must be more vigilant to foil human trafficking attempts especially along the Cambodian-Thai border.
“We must step up investigations to uncover the masterminds and members of human trafficking rings,” he said. “We must pay more attention to monitor border crossings which occur far away from checkpoints, especially in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.”
Mr Kheng said that following an agreement between the two countries, several Cambodians cross over to work in Thailand daily and more checks must be made to ensure that all these worker have valid border passes.
He noted that when Cambodians cross into Thailand illegally they are arrested and repatriated by the Thai authorities.
“Between 50 and 80 people are repatriated by the Thai authorities daily,” Mr Kheng said, adding that Cambodia had set up a migrant worker holding centre in Poipet city to question trafficking victims who are repatriated in a bid to find out who had sent them to Thailand.
Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and vice chairwoman of the NCCT, yesterday said that the national police and national military police cracked down on 134 cases of human trafficking last year, compared with 159 cases in 2017 which represents a 15.72 percent decrease.
“A total of 224 suspects, including 98 women, were arrested and sent to the court last year,” she said, noting that police arrested 203 suspects in 2017.
She added that the suspects included nationals from China, England, Vietnam, Canada, Australia, Norway, Netherland, New Zealand and the Philippines.
Ms Bun Eng noted that the authorities rescued 230 human trafficking victims last year, 115 victims fewer than in 2017.
Sin Namyoung, former chief of the migrant worker holding centre in Poipet city, yesterday said that the authorities have previously also arrested a few masterminds who trafficked people to work in Thailand illegally and they too have been sent to court.
“However, most victims do not disclose who sent them to work in Thailand making it difficult for the authorities to find the masterminds,” she said.
In January, Labour Minister Ith Samheng said that currently, Cambodia has sent workers to Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Of the 1.2 million workers involved, nearly 500,000 were women.
These workers send back more than $2 billion per year to support their families in Cambodia.