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NCCT slams US report on human trafficking

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Two women accused of human trafficking arrive at the municipal court. KT/Mai Vireak

The National Committee for Counter-Trafficking yesterday called a human trafficking report by the US government, placing the Kingdom on its Tier 2 Watch List, politically motivated.

On June 20, the US State Department said in its report that despite significant efforts in curbing human trafficking, the government did not do enough.

“The government of Cambodia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” the report said.

“In several high-profile cases, the government used anti-trafficking legislation and law enforcement resources to target political opposition figures and other non-traffickers attempting to document the country’s trafficking circumstances,” it added.

NCCT vice chairman Chou Bun Eng told reporters after an annual meeting yesterday that the US State Department should not have considered the former opposition party when evaluating the government’s progress in curbing human trafficking.

“The US sometimes presses the Cambodian government and orders us to do this and that,” Ms Bun Eng said. “The US has interfered in the country’s national policies and brought the opposition’s case into [the issue of] human trafficking, which is a completely technical issue.”

She noted that the government was disappointed over the report and that the authorities have made progress in curbing human trafficking.

“The report was politically motivated, mainly regarding foreign policy,” she said. “Any country not familiar with Cambodia will believe the US’ evaluation and think that the Kingdom is less attentive to the problem.”

However, Ms Bun Eng said that the report’s findings provided insight on how Cambodian officials can improve human trafficking measures in the Kingdom and restore the country’s reputation.

She said that during the meeting, Interior Minister Sar Kheng highlighted some of the points listed in the report.

“During the meeting, Mr Kheng said all the weak points must be fixed and all relevant draft laws and measures shall be monitored closely and quickly pushed forward in order to restore the situation and [remove] the Kingdom from the Watch List,” she said.

According to an NCCT report issued yesterday, crackdowns on cases of human trafficking have increased by 25 percent in the first half of this year, when compared to the same period last year.

It said that the National Police and the military police foiled 78 cases between January and June of this year, an increase when compared to last year’s 62 cases.

“Out of 78 cases, 66 were specifically related to sex trafficking crimes,” the report said. “Seventy out of 263 victims who were rescued in crackdowns this year were under 15 years old.”

It noted that 97 suspects were sent to pre-trial detention, including nine juveniles and 14 foreigners.

Ros Sopheap, director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, yesterday said despite government efforts to tackle human trafficking, it has yet to achieve its goals.

“In my opinion, the government should look into the US report and see if there are actions that can be done to reduce the problem of human trafficking,” Ms Sopheap said. “If the government thinks it has nothing to do with politics, take serious action to prevent the problem and prove it to the US.”

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