More than 50 underage girls were rescued from labour recruitment firms during raids last year, leading to the apprehension of eight suspects, according to a report released by a department of the Ministry of Interior yesterday.
The report, released at a four-day ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly seminar on human trafficking, said suspects had been apprehended at six different labour recruitment firms regarding the use of 55 underage workers but did not specify the names of the companies.
Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday she couldn’t recall which companies the suspects came from.
“We arrested eight suspects from the companies and rescued the underage workers and allowed them to return to their parents,” she said.
Jeff Vize, a consultant at the rights group Licadho, said the Ministry of Interior had informed them in August that 53 underage trainees had been rescued so far that year.
“It would be more useful if they would give us specific details about which companies and for what,” said Vize.
“We could verify that actual actions had been taken. Up until now [we have not been] aware of any prosecutions in relation to any of the recruitment cases we’ve highlighted.”
The report also highlighted a 68-percent rise in the number of human trafficking related prosecutions handed down by Cambodian courts in 2010, compared to 2009. Prosecutions were said to have reached 163 last year.
But Eric Meldrum, operations director at South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities, said alternative figures provided by the East West Management Institute put the number of trafficking-related prosecutions closer to 36.
“If you go out and say there were 163 people prosecuted for human trafficking you think 163 human traffickers were prosecuted, when that could include people prosecuted for prostitution or
pornography,” he said.