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Trafficking, migrant issues in spotlight

The Cambodian government was strengthening its capacity to combat human trafficking by focusing on poverty reduction and was eager to work with other groups tackling the crime, Interior Ministry Secretary of State Chou Bun Eng said yesterday.

“The issues of human trafficking and migrating workers are complicated and a major concern for Cambodia,” she told a workshop, adding that the government was working hard to address these issues through partnerships with NGOs and governments in other countries in the region.

Reducing poverty and providing jobs, including jobs in other countries, were central to the government’s strategy, Chou Bun Eng said.

The government planned to strengthen co-ordination with NGOs, enhance law enforcement, improve care of the victims of trafficking and raise awareness about trafficking and safe migration.

It would also soon sign bilateral agreements with Thailand and Malaysia on sending migrant workers to those countries, Chou Bun Eng said.

Ya Navuth, executive director of the NGO CARAM, told the workshop thousands of migrant Cambodian workers were detained in other countries or had disappeared.

Many had not been paid by their employers and some had been killed, Ya Navuth said.

He called on the government to pursue region-wide legislation through ASEAN to protect the rights of migrant workers.

USAid director Flynn Fuller said a lack of jobs in rural areas left Cambodians vulnerable to trafficking.

“Poverty is no doubt a clear reason why many people choose to migrate abroad,” he said.

Last year, 118,791 migrant workers were detained and sent back from Thailand and Vietnam to Cambodia, according to the Interior Ministry.

It said 255 people had been arrested on human trafficking-related charges.

In 2010, 127,053 migrant workers were detained and sent back from Thailand and Vietnam to Cambodia and 242 people were arrested on human trafficking-related charges, the ministry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at buthreaksmey.kongkea@phnompenhpost.com

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