Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Human trafficking victims ‘need more assistance’

Human trafficking victims ‘need more assistance’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Oum Raden charged with human trafficking to Malaysia walks outside appeal court after her hearing in January 2022. KIM SAROM

Human trafficking victims ‘need more assistance’

In early January, Oum Raden asked the Phnom Penh Municipal Appeal Court to reduce her sentence.

“Please release me so I can take care of my children, who are just 7, 12 and 13 years old. Their grandfather, who was taking care of them, passed away from Covid-19 and they are helpless while I serve my sentence,” she pleaded.

Raden was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with smuggling under Article 11 of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. She transported seven young Cambodian women to Malaysia, and was subsequently arrested and charged. Her release date is currently slated for 2032.

During her 2016 trial, Raden told the court that she worked with Chan Sokhim and Sam Yong, who lived in Kampong Thom province. They persuaded women aged 16-19 from the rural areas of the province that young Cambodian women were highly paid when they worked in Malaysia. After convincing their victims, Sokhim and Yong took them to a house in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo commune and district to fill out passport applications.

Raden said that Yong had processed the paperwork for them at the Choam Chao commune hall, but lied to officials and changed the names and ages of the women in order to make legal passports. The trick was discovered by commune authorities, who notified the Anti-Human Trafficking Department, who freed the seven girls and arrested the three traffickers.

After being charged, Raden and Sokhim were sentenced to 16 years in prison. Sam Yong was sentenced to one year for providing false documents.

“I filed a grievance, not to deny my poor conduct, but to appeal the length of my sentence. There is no one to take care of my children, so I respectfully ask the court to reduce my sentence,” she told the Appeal Court, in tears.

Nhek Vannara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, said that despite the ministry’s best efforts, the protection and provision of services to victims of human trafficking was not yet fully comprehensive, especially when it came to the provision of support services for victims.

“Criminals are taking advantage of the challenging circumstances of the country at this difficult time to exploit people,” he said.

Meas Saim, ADHOC deputy director of women and children’s rights, said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, her organisation had recorded several women being cheated and forced into marriage to China, or trafficked elsewhere. A fairly large number of them had returned, she said, but both NGOs and government institutions found it difficult to assist them, and many of them struggled after their returns.

She added that some older cases in Malaysia appeared to have stalled, as several women who travelled through a recruitment agency had gone missing after their contracts expired. ADHOC had not received any recent information.

She said her organisation was also assisting some women to receive the salaries they were promised, through Malaysian legal procedures.

“According to our data, however, recently there have been more women returning from China than any other country,” she said.

Meas Saim added that most of them were duped by promises of work or marriages to wealthy loving husbands. Most of them had made the decision to go because they were uneducated and blindly believed the brokers, who are very adept at enticing them into marrying or working in China. Many had returned pregnant, with no choice but to marry someone they did not love.

While in China, they often had their rights and freedoms restricted and were seriously affected, physically or mentally, she said, adding that some had fallen ill but been denied treatment. Some had approached the police for help but been turned away.

Most of those who got cheated in Malaysia worked as housemaids, with some arranging work through their Cambodian-Muslim relatives, who had networks there. Some had correct paperwork, whereas others had flown there without the documents required to work, she said.

“Some were detained temporarily by the police and some have gone missing. The majority were young women,” she added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’