The Cambodian government has released guidelines for organisations and government departments dealing with human trafficking that it hopes will lead to a more coordinated approach to the problem, more prosecutions and victims getting appropriate assistance more quickly.
The guidelines document was released during an annual meeting on human trafficking yesterday.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Chou Bun Eng, the permanent vice chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking Persons (NCCT), said Cambodia didn’t currently have a standardised definition of human trafficking and protocols on how to deal with cases, with each organisation and body developing their own.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng told the meeting the country’s approach to human trafficking in the past had been “unorganised”.
The government plans to instruct 200 to 300 staff in the government and non-governmental sectors on the guidelines before they are formally implemented later this year.
In 2015, the government dealt with 105 human trafficking cases – 58 of which were sex trafficking – involving 295 victims and 144 suspects, according to the NCCT’s report.
Of the total 295 victims, 83 of them were under the age of 15; 37 were between the ages of 15 and 18; and 175 were 18 and older.
In 2014, there were a total of 95 cases.
Dy Thehoya, labour program officer at the Community Legal Education Center, yesterday said it would have been better for the government to have taken action on making the process for migrant workers to get a passport less complex and more affordable than implementing new guidelines.
The costly process was what lead many Cambodians to migrate to other countries, such as Thailand, for jobs without the necessary paperwork, and putting themselves at risk.
“This is what we are concerned about,” The Hoya said. “That’s a problem.”
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, US Ambassador William Heidt said human trafficking “affects not only individuals and their families, but also communities and entire countries”.
“We know from experience around the world that strong coordination among the government, civil society and the private sector is critical for ending human trafficking.”
Cambodia had turned the corner in addressing child sex trafficking, which Heidt said gave him the confidence that it could do the same to reduce labour trafficking.