Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t officials enabling traffickers, says Kheng



Gov’t officials enabling traffickers, says Kheng

Sar Kheng, deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, at a press conference in 2013.
Sar Kheng, deputy prime minister and minister of the interior, at a press conference in 2013. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t officials enabling traffickers, says Kheng

Interior Minister Sar Kheng this week said that he is aware there are government officials working with human traffickers in the sale of Cambodian people, and promised punishment should they fail to stop the practice and “change into good people”.

Kheng, who has over the past year acknowledged a number of grievous shortcomings in the government, said during a Sunday speech on trafficking on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island that the scourge of trafficking was being facilitated by the people who should be fighting it.

“The government officials who are creating problems, and conspiring with and cooperating with the human-trafficking offenders, or are involved in [any such] actions – even unintentionally – must withdraw themselves urgently and change into good people,” Kheng said. “You cannot hide doing these actions anymore, and you will be punished in compliance with the law.”

He did not say how the officials would be identified or punished, and Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached. Keo Thea, head of the Phnom Penh police’s anti-trafficking unit, said his police were always looking for those involved in trafficking.

“We have been working very hard,” Thea said, adding he was not afraid Kheng was referring to corrupt trafficking police. “His remarks were not directed at any [particular] officers and referred to officers in general . . . He has warned all officials – both civil and the armed forces.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Kheng was correct to say officials were involved in human trafficking but may in fact have underplayed the role that officials have in the lucrative business.

“They do not have links [to human traffickers] like small threads, they have links like rope as big as their ankles,” the opposition spokesman said. “This big rope requires huge reforms to change it.

“In the past, I have seen many remarks and laws, but there was no one listening or implementing it . . . and the problem has gotten bigger and bigger.”

Am Sam Ath, technical coordinator with rights group Licadho, said he welcomed Kheng’s speech but added that no officials would be scared of invovement in trafficking unless there were arrests.

“We want to see the authorities involved in human trafficking investigated and brought to justice. If they do not take action against them, they will not be scared and will continue to do it,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he