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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Economic crisis fuels human trafficking in Cambodia: officials

Economic crisis fuels human trafficking in Cambodia: officials

Men increasingly becoming vulnerable as jobs dry up at home, authorities warn, saying better police training is needed to implement laws

Siem Reap
HUMAN trafficking in Cambodia has surged in the wake of the global financial crisis, an international task force of government and NGOs said Tuesday at the opening of a workshop in Siem Reap.

"The impact of the global economic crisis in Cambodia will be visible [through] an increase in criminality," said Christian Guth, law enforcement adviser for the World Vision project named Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children.

"Girls and boys who are without work will go to the countryside and work in the rice fields. But once this temporary work finishes ... they return to the town and can fall into prostitution and trafficking," the former French police commander told the Post at the start of the three-day workshop involving government departments, police and officials from the World Vision project.

The opening day's agenda unveiled new strategies on training police and judges to better understand anti-human trafficking laws, how to collect evidence in cases and introduce new interview techniques for victims, especially women and children.

Men in the firing line

Bruno Maltoni, project coordinator for the International Organisation for Migration, said men had become prime targets for  human trafficking during the economic downturn.

... They return to the town and can fall into prostitution and trafficking.

"We're seeing more and more cases of Cambodian men being exploited. We've found fisherman who have been exploited for labour in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and even Somalia," he said.

"Since 1992 there has been a focus on protecting women and children, which is important, but now we have to face new challenges to be able to change our approach to tackling human trafficking."

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently pledged US$1.39 million to the project, which will be used largely to support police training.

"Even when you apply training there can be problems with police officers implementing the training on the job due to a lack of communication or resources," Maltoni said.

"We have very good cooperation between the government and organisations providing training, [but the] idea is to have more balanced and widespread training," he added.

National Police Brigadier General Ten Borany praised female police officers for their sensitive work with victims, but said the key to successfully combating human trafficking was more police training.

"The main challenge facing law enforcement is strengthening the numbers of specialised officers and ensuring they follow the provincial prosecutors in building cases," said Ten Borany, acting director of the Interior Ministry's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department.

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