A dozen government ministries
joined forces with local and international NGOs to launch an awareness campaign
in key vulnerable provinces aimed at building a nation without human
The campaign will go first to
the provinces of Svay Rieng, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.
The provincial dialogues are
an opportunity for community members to share information with their local officials
to develop ideas for combating trafficking at the village level.
The campaign is aimed at
mobilizing community involvement in the fight against trafficking and assumes
the key to success is participation by community members who can directly
address the needs of individuals and families in their communities.
The campaign will bring together
people who can share their stories on how trafficking affected their communities.
Government representatives will provide information on the recent initiatives
to protect people from trafficking and exploitation, including a new
The Cambodian government in
March 2007 established the National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons
(NTATP) following a warning by the US that the country had a booming
in human smuggling trade and had no will to fight it.
Sar Kheng, Minister of
Interior and head of the NTATP, told reporters at the campaign’s launch on March
5 that since that warning the government has stepped up its fight against trafficking.
"The occurrence of human
trafficking is decreasing,” Sar Kheng said.
According to the NTATP, those
most likely to be trafficked are Cambodian citizens under 25 years, who comprise
about 50 percent of the nation’s population, or six million people.
Those trafficked are
sometimes forced into sex, labor or begging – not infrequently under threat of
violence and death.
Joseph Mussomeli, the US Ambassador in Phnom Penh, said in a speech at the launch that
many other countries refuse to accept they have a problem and their governments
react to concerns about trafficking with anger.
"But Cambodia has
bravely acknowledged it has a serious problem and has seriously taken up the
cause to start eradicating this evil,” Mussomeli said. "It is nothing to do
with technology, or with how large the army is or how many weapons a nation
He said that while Cambodia’s
progress over the past year is laudable, the battle is far from won.
Mussomeli said that victims
need to receive justice for the crimes committed against them.
He said that Cambodia
must work to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes against human
"Even more importantly, those
who protect these criminals, especially judicial officials who accept bribes to
release them from jail or find them innocent of their crimes, need to be
punished and removed,” Mussomeli said.
Sar Kheng added that two South
Korean companies had sought to register with the Ministry of Commerce to set up
businesses arranging weddings between Cambodian women and Korean men, but the
government pushed them out of the country in 2006.