The Ministry of Interior is undertaking a serious effort to inspect all the accommodations of foreigners in Cambodia – except diplomats – in order to find and identify human traffickers.
Minister Sar Kheng said this would include inspections on the homes of foreigners employed by businesses, private firms and investment companies.
Sar Kheng made these remarks on July 26 at the closing ceremony of the first graduating class of Level One and Two training courses for police leaders at the Police Academy of Cambodia.
His remarks came after the US State Department downgraded Cambodia’s human trafficking ranking from its position on the Tier 2 Watch List (2WL) to Tier 3 in their “Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for July 2022”.
“We will inspect their accommodations, having no other purpose but to find out whether they have come to Cambodia legally or not, and if they have work permits because we have to find those who are human traffickers,” he said.
Sar Kheng warned that criminals can use the money from human trafficking to fund terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
He said the inspection is being done to promote human rights in accordance with the Cambodian constitution and UN human rights organisations.
“When we carry out inspections, we need to do them properly and effectively. We must not behave or act in any manner that violates or affects the rights of the targets we must inspect,” he added.
The US State Department TIP report alleged that the government of Cambodia did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
It added that Cambodia is allegedly not making significant efforts to do so, even considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity.
Pursuant to that, Cambodia was downgraded in status to Tier 3.
Cambodia was listed at Tier 2 from 2016-2018 and remained on the Tier 2 Watch List between 2019 and 2021 before it was downgraded this year.
Chou Bun Eng, ministry secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the National Committee on Counter-Trafficking (NCCT), told The Post on July 20 that the content of the TIP report is the “opposite” of what the Cambodian government had been doing to address the issue.
“How much do they know about the government’s work against human trafficking? We’ve tried very hard [to work on this] at every level – national to sub-national, and with our partner NGOs.
“I don’t think this report is well written or researched and we are not happy with it because we have gone all out, but the results of our efforts have been judged unfairly,” she said.