Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who also serves as chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), said the fight against all forms of human trafficking, including labour trafficking and sexual exploitation, is important for the protection of human rights as well as being tied to the combating of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Sar Kheng was speaking at an opening August 9 meeting to disseminate a plan to increase the fight against all forms of human trafficking, labour trafficking and sexual trafficking in Cambodia, after the US Department of State downgraded the country to Tier 3 status in its efforts to fight human trafficking.
In July, the US Department of State downgraded Cambodia to Tier 3 status due to what it considered an increase in the trafficking of foreigners to the Kingdom and what it described as the government’s limited attempts to combat the problem.
Sar Kheng opined that no matter how the US ranks the Kingdom, the Cambodian government will be continuing its fight against human trafficking.
“Working groups are working on this task responsibly with continual results, despite facing some issues,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, told The Post on August 10 that this meeting was important for finding more mechanisms and means to prevent and combat human trafficking more effectively in Cambodia to get a better ranking next year.
He said Cambodia dropping to third tier status could have a lot of negative impacts on tourism, investment, business and other sectors. Therefore, Cambodia must further strengthen its mechanisms, policies and means of fighting human trafficking, especially by strengthening the effective implementation of existing laws and cooperating with countries in the region as well as internationally to prevent trafficking.
“This third tier status is not a good thing for Cambodia’s reputation. Now, we can see that the domestic and international media have published stories related to that, especially foreigners purportedly being trafficked into Cambodian territory,” he said.
Kirth Chantharith, head of the interior ministry’s General Department of Immigration, said the government has been strongly committed to combating human trafficking, labour trafficking and sexual exploitation, especially of women and children, to protect people domestically and abroad as well as foreigners who are living in Cambodia to prevent the catastrophe of modern slavery.
He said the government, with the NCCT as the staff, has set out the principles, plans and measures as a priority and is leading the implementation of this work with many fruitful results.
He added that this included raising public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking, perpetrators’ tricks and launching active operations to crack down on human trafficking cases, thereby freeing thousands of victims and supporting their successful reintegration into the community.
According to Chantharith, the government’s commitment and efforts among relevant ministries and institutions at all levels have led to a reduction in the number of trafficking victims and bringing safety, security and development to Cambodian society.
However, he said that Cambodia still faces many challenges posed by ambitious criminals, including economic and political factors, and all of these issues have affected national prestige and the Kingdom’s socio-economic development strategies and has even affected the rights, welfare and livelihoods of some people.
“In order to intensify the fight against human trafficking, labour trafficking and sexual trafficking in Cambodia, the NCCT has launched an important action plan related to education, implementation of administrative and legal measures and international cooperation,” he said.