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Anti-trafficking fight expands

A police officer inspects photos of women in 2013 who were allegedly trafficked
A police officer inspects photos of women in 2013 who were allegedly trafficked. Yesterday the government launched an action plan to combat human trafficking in the Kingdom. Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Anti-trafficking fight expands

Cambodia, a common source, transit and destination country for human trafficking, yesterday launched a far-reaching plan to combat the exploitative practice.

The 2014 to 2018 National Plan of Action (NPA), which was launched yesterday afternoon at the Interior Ministry, was devised by the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), with assistance from USAID and national and international NGOs.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who chairs the committee, said the new plan is proof of the government’s deep commitment to eradicating trafficking.

“This is the first time that we have created a National Committee for Counter Trafficking [made up of] national and provincial officials, and we hope that … [it] will work to effectively combat human trafficking,” he said.

The plan calls for a strengthening of relevant laws and policies, better prevention strategies, and gender and age-appropriate support for trafficking victims.

It also pushes for guidelines on cross-border and undercover investigations to be developed. Wide-reaching goals include the training of female police officers on human trafficking, and better judicial ethics.

Camille Dumont, communications specialist for Winrock International Counter Trafficking in Persons, agreed that the government seemed “more committed” this time around. She added that increasing the committee’s manpower from six to 50, including officials in the provinces, made it much stronger than the previous NCCT.

“The restructuring of the national mechanism puts higher responsibility and accountability [on] all concerned ministries,” she said.

A lack of time and budget hampered the implementation of the 2011 to 2013 NPA, according to the NCCT.

“The intention was for the NPA budget to come from each concerned technical ministry, but this did not materialize. The main reason for this was that the planning and budgeting period for the ministries had already been completed when the NPA was finally signed,” the NCCT said in a report.

Interior Ministry Secretary of State Chou Bun Eng said the new committee “plans to request 100 million riel [about $25,000]” for the scheme, and “hopes partner NGOs” will offer additional funding.

With countless Cambodians falling victim to labour and sex trafficking in countries including China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, Kheng acknowledged yesterday that there were still challenges ahead.

“As you know, the suspects are smart now; they have many ways to lure victims abroad. I appeal to all of you to pay attention to this because human trafficking is a crime that affects human rights.”

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