Minister of Interior Sar Kheng vows to continue operations against human trafficking and money laundering in the new year, noting that these crimes continue to pose a security risk to the people and the nation as a whole.

During a January 5 meeting with the recently crowned national champions of the 3rd National Games, he acknowledged that the Kingdom still faces many complex challenges. Despite several notable successes, he warned, some crimes were still taking place.

“We have done well to control crime and maintain public order, but the perpetrators of these offences have not given up their wicked plans. Human trafficking, in all its forms, is a non-traditional crime and has a complex nature that we must work together to address,” he added.

“We worked hard in 2022 and achieved satisfactory results. The question is – can we afford to suspend the work or should we continue? We must go on, because the danger still remains,” he continued.

Sar Kheng urged all members of the law enforcement community to work together to educate the public about the effects of human trafficking and money laundering, adding that the relatively new nature of these crimes makes them fiercely complicated.

“We must do whatever we can to secure the support of the people, and this means we must work hard. Money laundering, although complicated to investigate and prosecute, affects the prestige of the Kingdom, and must be suppressed,” he said.

According to a recent joint report by the National Police and Gendarmerie, in the first nine months of 2022, officers investigated a total of 122 human trafficking and sexual exploitation cases, a reduction of over 50 per cent from the 269 cases recorded during the same period in 2021.

Chou Bun Eng – ministry secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) – told The Post that the government remained committed to combating human trafficking, despite reports of a reduction in instances of these crimes.

She said there appeared to be an increase in cases involving foreigners who trafficked their own countrymen and women on Cambodian soil, and this would be a new area of focus for authorities.

San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that in order to prevent these crimes, the authorities should take action against corruption, as these crimes were closely linked.

He added that if corruption can be tackled, crime will reduce, as he believed that some of the guilty parties took advantage of corrupt officials to commit crimes.

“To solve these problems, we must ensure that none is exempt from prosecution. These crimes are related to corruption, and the starting point must be to root it out at all levels,” he continued.

Chey said that any measures undertaken by the authorities to quell trafficking or money-laundering offences must be implemented in a transparent manner.