Several government institutions and the US have reiterated their joint commitment in the fight against human trafficking. Their cooperation aims to safeguard security, dignity and human life, by protecting individuals from various forms of exploitation.

The pledge was made during a November 8 meeting between US ambassador W. Patrick Murphy and representatives of the ministries of women’s affairs, foreign affairs, justice, interior, labour and social affairs, as well as officials from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the National Police and the General Department of Identification and Immigration.

In a social media post, Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, explained that combating human trafficking stood as a paramount focus of the initial phase of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy, led by Prime Minister Hun Manet.

“We are deeply committed to surmounting any challenges and barriers to ensure we safeguard security, well-being, dignity and human life from a range of crimes, with a specific focus on human trafficking. We are taking proactive measures to investigate and address violations, and establishing an efficient reporting network to promptly assist survivors,” she said.

The US ambassador commended the government for combating human trafficking and reiterated US commitment to strengthening cooperation and providing technical assistance.

“We will continue to enhance cooperation and provide technical assistance to support the Cambodian government in its efforts to protect the best interests of human trafficking victims,” he added.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for monitoring at rights group LICADHO, believed that the US is a valuable partner in the fight against human trafficking. The most recent Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report from the US State Department retained Cambodia’s Tier 3 status, the lowest ranking, which suggests that the government had not undertaken “serious and sustained” measures to eradicate human trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice.

“There are various factors contributing to human trafficking crime. Weaknesses in law enforcement, as well as inadequate collaboration between the authorities and relevant institutions in countering human trafficking, along with ongoing issues with corruption persist,” he explained.

He added that trafficking has consequences for national society as well as survivors. This crime flagrantly violates human rights, induces fear and insecurity within society, and impedes economic growth and investment. Additionally, it could become a potential human resource crisis in the future.

Meanwhile, The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications conducted the “Promoting Gender Equality, Combating Human Trafficking and Addressing Online Violence against Women and Children” workshop on November 7. The forum was attended by sub-national officials from Takeo, Kampong Speu, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

Prak Channoy, ministry secretary of state, said the workshop’s primary objective was to disseminate knowledge to the sub-national units, with a focus on the promotion of gender equality, the fight against human trafficking and the prevention of online violence which targets women and children.

She urged the participants to remain dedicated to enhancing the livelihood of the female civil servants within their units. This includes the ongoing promotion of equality and the recognition of women’s rights and roles at all levels, enabling women to actively participate in the decision-making process.

“We offer women opportunities and encourage them to demonstrate courage as pivotal components in diminishing gender inequality. Their participation is vital in advancing economic growth, improving quality of life and achieving the Kingdom’s goal of upper-middle-income status by 2030, with the ultimate goal of reaching high-income status by 2050,” she added.