Officials at the Interior Ministry met yesterday to discuss a six-month report into human trafficking, amid fears the crime is becoming more prevalent.
The meeting was led by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and attended by Chou Bun Eng, chairwoman of the national committee to combat human trafficking.
According to a draft report presented by Ms Bun Eng, human trafficking cases in the first six months of this year more than doubled in comparison with the same period last year.
Authorities cracked down on 66 cases from January to June his year, compared with only 29 last year.
Ms Bun Eng said the figures were preliminary but seemed to indicate a spike in the crime.
She added that traffickers were diversifying into more areas, such as illegal surrogacy services.
“The government is working hard to find a solution and is planning a new law to control surrogacy services as soon as possible,” she said.
Large numbers of illegal Cambodian workers in Thailand are also at increased risk of trafficking as the government there attempts to regulate foreign labour, she added.
The United States again placed Cambodia on the second tier of its human trafficking report at the end of last month, meaning the country is still failing to meet standards to eliminate the problem.
The report alleged that despite endemic corruption contributing to trafficking in many sectors and among the most vulnerable people, the government did not sufficiently investigate, prosecute, or convict any complicit officials.
It also said that courts continued to conclude sex trafficking cases with monetary settlements in lieu of prison sentences, while the government did not issue formal guidance allowing the use of undercover investigative techniques in anti-trafficking operations.
Dy Thehoya, programme officer with labour rights group Central, said human trafficking over
the past six months was as bad as ever, adding that employment brokers were rarely arrested for their role in the crime.
“The first six months of this year have been no better than last year. Brokers still go free while Cambodians are cheated into working abroad in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia,” he said.