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Foreign ministry disputes media reports of ‘rampant’ human trafficking

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Chum Sounry, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spoke at a previous press conference. Hong Menea

Foreign ministry disputes media reports of ‘rampant’ human trafficking

Chum Sounry, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, shed light on the reality of human trafficking in Cambodia, saying that it not as rampant as some media reports suggested.

Sounry released a four-page clarification letter on September 9, following many media stories which had attracted international notice.

“Human trafficking condition in Cambodia is not as serious or as bad as the media would suggest,” said the letter.

Citing a report from local media outlet Fresh News which quoted Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak, Sounry said that Cambodian authorities intervened in 104 cases, rescued 968 people and detained 82 suspects. However, only 19 of the cases involved extortion and confinement.

“The majority of the cases involved labor disputes, contract disputes, restrictions on freedom, switching jobs without consent, debt settlement, discontent with living and working conditions, or instances where concerned families asked the authorities to find their missing relatives,” Sounry said.

He quoted Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, who told foreign media that more than 100 Malaysians working for syndicates in Cambodia have been rescued by the Malaysian embassy since 2018.

The ambassador added that among those who had been freed, some had refused to leave Cambodia or even rejected the rescue offered to them, as they did not want to return to Malaysia. He said some had run away from their homes to escape creditors. However, their mothers had filed complaints to the government and asked that they be returned home.

Sounry also rejected media reports about organ harvesting rings and the selling human body parts, saying they were all fabricated.

The spokesman said Cambodia is committed to fighting against all forms of human trafficking.

He cited Interior Minister Sar Kheng’s remarks, saying The National Committee for Counter Trafficking has rolled out an operational plan to scale up its campaign against human trafficking, forced labor and the sex trade.

On August 28, Sar Kheng called on the public, the national and international community, foreign diplomatic missions and embassies in Cambodia, and international authorities to continue sharing intelligence related to human trafficking and other transnational crimes, in order to more effectively suppress them.

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