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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Regional cooperation needed to crack down on flesh trade: official

Regional cooperation needed to crack down on flesh trade: official

During 2-day meeting, anti-trafficking groups from five countries open dialogue on strategies for law enforcement, sharing information.

COUNTRIES across Asia need to better coordinate their efforts to combat cross-border human trafficking, speakers told a regional anti-human trafficking conference in Phnom Penh on Monday.

The two-day meeting involving Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai, South Korean and Malaysian delegations as well as local and international NGOs was designed to help the groups collaborate on strategies to fight the flesh trade.

"Individual countries acting alone cannot defeat human trafficking, and this dialogue presents an opportunity to endorse and reaffirm our commitment to work together," Ing Kantha Phavi, the minister of women's affairs, told the audience.

Nandita Baruah, the chief of party at the Asia Foundation's Counter-Trafficking in Cambodia ProgramME, told the Post that she hoped the dialogue would encourage countries to implement the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an agreement ratified by six ASEAN nations that aims to improve transnational law enforcement by allowing signatories to help each other obtain evidence.

According to Ith Sam Heng, the minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation, Cambodia has yet to ratify the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty but is currently taking steps to ratify it.

He stressed the need to set up international mechanisms to fight human trafficking, saying, "We need to have legal structure and processes that can address its cross-border nature".

During the Cambodia presentation, Brigadier General Ten Borany of the Interior Ministry's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit said that information exchange among different countries needed to improve.

"Coordination among relevant agencies in different countries is still limited," he said.

Carol Rodley, the US ambassador, praised Cambodia's controversial 2008 anti-trafficking law, calling it a "tribute" to the efforts of the Cambodian government. But she noted that domestic legal instruments alone are not sufficient: "Regional cooperation is essential."

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