On August 20, Prime Minister Hun Sen will deliver the opening speech at the 2021 National Interfaith Forum on Combating Human Trafficking.

For the occasion, all pagodas, temples or churches in Cambodia – no matter their particular religion – have been asked to ring their bells or beat their drums that day in solidarity and offer prayers that all the peoples of the world succeed in the fight against human trafficking.

Minister of Cults and Religions Chhit Sokhon said on August 17 that every year since 2017, the national committee for counter-trafficking in Cambodia (NCCT) has been coordinating with religions ministry and Cambodia’s spiritual leaders to hold the National Interfaith Forum focused on ending all forms of human trafficking.

“During the interfaith programme in 2021, Samdech Hun Sen Prime Minister will give a speech on the theme of bringing about a world free from the scourges of Covid-19 and human trafficking. We ask religious facilities to ring bells, beat drums or make some noise in support of ending human trafficking however they are able at 6pm on August 20,” he said.

The ministry noted that Covid-19 restrictions remain in place and must be followed, so any gatherings on that date for this event should be masked, socially distanced and held outdoors.

According to a report posted on Minister of Interior Sar Kheng’s Facebook page in late July, in the first six months of 2021 government authorities intervened in over 100 more cases of human trafficking crimes compared to the same period in 2020.

Sar Kheng said that during the six month law enforcement operation, they had investigated 198 cases of human and/or sex trafficking, thereby arresting 291 perpetrators and rescuing 721 victims.

“The figures from this year have increased by more than half compared to the figures for the first six months of last year. There were only 63 cases then,” he added.

Sar Kheng stated that human trafficking activities included brokered illegal marriages abroad and brokered illegal migration for work, with most cases involving intentional lies and deception on the part of the offenders.