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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Human trafficking arrests up 50 percent, police say

Human trafficking arrests up 50 percent, police say

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081209_03.jpg

But local NGOs say the spike in arrests indicates an increase in trafficking, not an improvement in law enforcement

Photo by:
Christopher Shay

Somaly Mam, the co-founder of Afesip, an anti-sex-trafficking NGO.

IN the first nine months of this year, police brought 75 cases of human trafficking to court and arrested 107 traffickers, a 50 percent increase compared with the same time period last year, according to Bith Kim Hong, director of the Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department.

While the police celebrated these numbers, opposition party members and the German ambassador said more needs to be done to end human trafficking in Cambodia. Moreover, local NGOs say this jump, in reality, represents an increase in trafficking, not an improvement in law enforcement.

Bith Kim Hong said that police have strengthened enforcement and successfully worked with local authorities nationwide in order to achieve the spike in trafficking arrests.

"We hope that we will keep the human trafficking situation under control in the next few years with the continued cooperation of law enforcement and local authorities," he said.

"Each human trafficker was sentenced to 10 to 28 years in prison," he added.

Germany's ambassador to Cambodia, Frank Marcus Mann, urged the Cambodian government to do more to combat exploitation.

"We want to see Cambodia's government step up their fight against human trafficking," Mann said.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua said that although human trafficking may have decreased in the last year, too many Cambodians are still falling victim to human traffickers.

"We have many good laws, but if we do not find out the real issue, we will not combat trafficking well," said Mu Sochua. "The government should continue to increase law enforcement and implementation efforts."

Local NGOs working against  human trafficking, however, said that trafficking is becoming more prevalent.

Somaly Mam, president of Afesip Cambodia, who recently received a 1 million euro (US$1.26 million) prize for her efforts against the sexual exploitation of women, warned that human trafficking will increase as a result of poverty and unemployment caused by the global financial crisis.

"The government and NGOs need to work together to protect women and children, and help them avoid exploitation," she said.

Soun Ngoun Y, a children's rights project supervisor at rights organisation Licadho, said the group has recorded 51 cases of human trafficking, compared with only 26 cases last year.

"The increase in the statistics has made us very worried," said Soun Ngoun Y.

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