Crackdowns on human trafficking crimes have declined by about 15.5% in the first 10 months of this year, compared to the same period last year, a report released by the Interior Ministry’s National Committee for Counter-Trafficking (NCCT) said.
Obtained by The Post during a meeting at the ministry on Thursday, the report revealed that the authorities had foiled 109 human trafficking-related cases between January and October of 2018 – down from 129 in the same period last year.
Of the 109 cases, 75 were specifically related to sex trafficking crimes.
The report also said that 69 out of 189 victims who were rescued in crackdowns this year were under 15 years old, compared to 253 last year.
Despite the declines, the number of suspects that were detained had risen. Last year, 158 suspects were held, including 13 juveniles and 30 foreigners. The number increased to 185 this year.
In compiling the report, the NCCT used data from 17 police institutions – the National Police, National Military Police, Phnom Penh Municipal Police, and provincial police in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham and Kampong Chhnang.
Other provinces are Kandal, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kratie, Svay Rieng, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Takeo, Oddar Meanchey and Tbong Khmum.
On another note, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has repatriated 434 Cambodian victims of human trafficking from Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
NCCT vice-chair Chou Bun Eng said the authorities cooperated with other countries to work on transnational human trafficking issues.
She stressed that the NCCT “will keep strengthening law enforcement to combat human trafficking crimes, especially those that are in the forms of labour and sexual exploitation, organ trade, as well child/infant trafficking and surrogacy”.
NCCT, Bun Eng said, “will continue pushing for the establishment of a memorandum of understanding on the safety and protection of Cambodian fishermen and migrant workers by cooperating with the host countries”.
“If we don’t strengthen [enforcement], we would not be able to continue cracking down on crimes,” she said, adding that the government “never stays still or ignores any crime”.
Dy The Hoya, of labour rights group Central, referring to the protection of Cambodian workers abroad, said the system of victim intervention has not improved.
“Victims needed help, and when they called the Cambodian Embassy, the calls were rarely answered,” he claimed.