Cambodia and France are in talks to establish a formal initiative for security cooperation with the goal of combating human trafficking as its priority amid an upsurge in the crime.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng met with French ambassador to Cambodia Jacques Pellet on November 1 to discuss the issue.
The main topics of the meeting included the initiative establishing a formal mechanism of security cooperation and Cambodia’s efforts to crack down on human trafficking, especially its recent operations in Preah Sihanouk province. Cambodia’s preparations for the 2023 national election were also on the table.
At the meeting, Sar Kheng voiced his support for establishing the mechanism and thanked France and the EU for striving to increase cooperation with Cambodia and particularly with the interior ministry.
“This cooperation will continue to progress steadily, especially the areas within the purview of our interior ministry including international security cooperation,” he said.
To accelerate the initiative, Sar Kheng instructed his officials to begin talks to set the priorities for the work and the drafting of an effective cooperative framework.
He also noted that some of the most relevant problems to be addressed are the fight against transnational crime, human trafficking, drug dealing and cybercrimes.
Sar Kheng briefed Pellet on the Cambodian authorities’ efforts in these areas, saying that the Cambodian government has been actively working on the issue and is “fervently committed” to stopping human trafficking in all forms.
“The results of the implementation of these measures have so far received the applause of our people and praise from friendly countries in the region. This task requires close cooperation between all relevant parties in the country to break off this relationship at its roots to stop those involved with contraband trafficking and smuggling of people,” he added.
Pellet said the Cambodian authorities’ efforts to crack down on human trafficking, especially its recent operations in Preah Sihanouk province, could be the focus in determining the scope of the framework for establishing cooperation and preventing these crimes.
“I want to understand the progress that the Cambodian authorities have been making,” he added.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesman Kheang Phearom said the authorities have strived to crack down on various offences in cooperation with the interior ministry in order to investigate and ultimately purge human trafficking from the province.
“Our provincial authorities have been very active and are doing this work effectively,” he said.
Sar Kheng emphasised that the government is now striving to combat human trafficking. From August 18 through September 18, the ministry received a total of 289 complaints from relatives of purported trafficking victims, from embassies and some international organisations relaying requests for help from their citizens.
“At first, we did not completely believe the information provided in these complaints, but after going through the actual process of investigation, we have unfortunately discovered that the complaints are about 95 per cent true,” he added.