Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials deny detainment of sex workers

Officials deny detainment of sex workers

Officials deny detainment of sex workers

THE government has lashed out at a recent Human Rights Watch report alleging the “systematic” abuse of sex workers in government-run detention centres, denying that sex workers are even sent to one of the centres cited by the United States-based watchdog.

In a report released on Monday, HRW accused the government of subjecting sex workers to beatings, extortion and rape, and called for the closure of detention centres where they have been illegally detained.

But in a letter sent to the Post yesterday, the Ministry of Social Affairs stated that the Prey Speu centre in Dangkor district – one of two centres listed by HRW in the report – was used to provide training to beggars and other street people. It said the centre had never been used to house sex workers, whose “rehabilitation” was handled in conjunction with 10 NGO partners.

“The Ministry of Social Affairs would like to reject the untrue information that causes confusion to the public ... and affects the honour of the NGO partners that cooperated to provide the services to those sex-trafficked victims,” the letter stated. “No street sex worker has received services from the centre at all.”

Enclosed with the letter was a photograph of officials handing bags of rice, instant noodles, clothing and bottles of soy sauce to what appear to be street people at Prey Speu.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division, said yesterday that the group stood by its findings.

“While [the ministry] says it does not intend to send sex workers to Prey Speu, that is not the reality on the ground,” he said in an email.

He said HRW and other rights groups learned of sex workers being held against their will at the centre as recently as last month, despite a June 2009 pledge from the ministry to cease holding sex workers at Prey Speu.

“Rather than issuing blanket denials that have little credibility, [the ministry] should investigate the abuses at Prey Speu, and provide unfettered and continuous access for Cambodian and international human rights NGOs,” Robertson said.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all