Anti-trafficking NGO Afesip has broken its selfimposed silence on the Chai Hour II Hotel investigation to defend itself against comments made by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
Some of the 83 women and girls taken by police in the December 7 hotel raid seemed to have been illegally confined at the Afesip shelter, Hor Namhong said in Paris on January 10.
He told Agence France-Presse that "among the 80 women, there are many who it seems [were] taken away and illegally confined by this NGO."
On December 7, police raided the Chai Hour II Hotel in Phnom Penh on suspicion of pimping and virginity selling, arresting eight people and detaining 83 girls and women for questioning. The following day police released the suspects and soon after a group stormed the Afesip shelter holding the 83 women, taking them away in cars.
Afesip had decided to refrain from public comment during an interministerial committee's investigation into the incident, but could not remain silent in the light of Hor Namhong's recent accusation, said Afesip's legal advisor Aarti Kapoor at a press conference on January 12.
Kapoor denied the women had been illegally confined. "We have a document of transferal which transfers responsibility for accommodation of 83 women and girls for the purpose of further investigation by the police."
Kapoor said Hor Namhong's comments were an "act of misconduct" because his accusation could influence both public opinion and members of the interministerial committee.
"We call on the interministerial committee once again to conduct a neutral, fair, unbiased investigation into all the aspects of the case, especially the initial police investigation and the process that led to the order of the release of the eight suspects," she said.
An official from the Ministry of Social Affairs said the findings from the interministerial committee were expected to be released by the end of January.