The Kamrieng district police chief who has been dismissed from the National Police for releasing a migrant-broker in Battambang province has been placed in pre-trial detention.
Provincial court spokesman Phan Ratana confirmed to The Post that Kim Ponlork was charged on February 16 under the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.
“The investigating judge decided to detain Kim Ponlork on charge of trafficking migrants across the border . . . under articles 8 and 11,” Ratana said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen approved Ponlork’s dismissal in a sub-decree on February 15, paving the way for a prosecution against the former district police chief.
Ponlork allegedly released the broker who had illegally brought migrant workers into Cambodia from Thailand to avoid Covid-19 quarantine measures.
Hun Sen told local media that he had ordered the provincial governor and the National Police to prosecute the official as a warning to others.
Yin Mengly of rights group Adhoc in Battambang applauded the strict law enforcement against officers who collude with others to bring migrant workers across the border in violation of the government’s health measures and guidelines.
“Colluding to release a middleman who brings migrant workers across the border seems like a small matter, but it is in fact a matter that affects national security, all Cambodian people and the social economy as a whole.
“If the middleman brings a migrant worker into the country that turns out to be positive for Covid-19, it could have a huge impact on the nation.
And the district or even the province might need to be locked down,” he said.
He called for strict law enforcement on all illegal acts committed by officers to set an example to them and to the middlemen.
On February 15, Hun Sen ordered the border provinces to take strict measures against the ringleaders of groups who bring migrant workers across the border illegally and to remain vigilant against such acts and hunt down those who perpetrate them.
Article 11 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation states: “A person who unlawfully removes another person who is in a country outside Cambodia for the purpose of delivering or transferring that person to another country... shall be punished with imprisonment for seven to 15 years.”
However, the prison term could increase to 15-20 years if the offence is committed by a public official or when the offence is committed by an organised group.