The government has introduced a new measure in its fight against human trafficking, with tourist visas now specifically indicating that the bearer is unable to work legally in Cambodia. 

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour explained the purpose of the new system.

In a December 28 social media post, he said that when the General Department of Immigration (GDI) stamps a tourist visa in a foreign passport, the stamp will explain that the recipient cannot legally work in the Kingdom.

In the past, there was no such confirmation included.

Sour added that the GDI will also display large message boards at all ports of entry, explaining that the bearers of tourist visas shall not be employed.

“This is a new initiative. If a foreigner has been deceived by a criminal network, they will realise it as soon as they arrive at an international checkpoint and see the words explaining that they cannot work stamped on their visa,” he said.

If a foreigner suspects that they have been deceived, they should report their suspicions to immigration authorities, in order to ensure potential people smugglers are investigated.

“This new mechanism is just one of the latest developments in the government’s efforts to combat and eradicate human trafficking in Cambodia. The Ministry of Interior, which has authority over the GDI, has worked hard to combat human trafficking,” added Sour.

Ny Sokha, president of local rights group ADHOC, noted that tourists have been banned from working or doing business for a long time.

He added, however, that in the past, the authorities have not managed this issue as clearly as they could have, with some foreigners entering the country – both legally and illegally – and taking the jobs of Cambodians.

“The commitment of the government to fighting human trafficking is important, but in practice it is also important to avoid people working illegally in the Kingdom,” he said.

According to Sokha, most of the people working illegally are not related to human trafficking operations, but are taking jobs away from Cambodians.

“The problem of trafficking appears to stem more from collusion, corruption and a lack of law enforcement against criminals,” he added.