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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt boosts anti-trafficking work

Govt boosts anti-trafficking work

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

trafficking.

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

Anti-Trafficking Law.

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

possesses.”

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

trafficking.

"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.

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