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Senior US lawmaker aims for trafficking downgrade

Senior US lawmaker aims for trafficking downgrade

A senior United States congressman is moving to have Cambodia’s human trafficking ranking downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 3, saying such a move would result in a reduction in aid to the Kingdom. 

Ed Royce, a California Republican in the US House of Representatives and a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, this week added an amendment to a bill calling for the downgrade.

The amendment to the bill renewing the State Department’s trafficking rankings reclassifies Cambodia as a Tier 3 country on the State Department’s human trafficking ranking.

“My amendment … would cut off non-humanitarian aid to Cambodia in order to push for real reform,” Royce wrote on his blog.

In the Trafficking in Persons Report 2011, released by the US Department of State in June, Cambodia was classified as a Tier 2 country, which groups countries that do not fully comply with minimum standards of the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act but are making “significant efforts” to do so.

Countries placed on Tier 3 are considered not to be making significant efforts to comply with the standards and could be subject to penalties, including sanctions on some forms of foreign aid.

Bills passed by House committees must ultimately be voted on by members of the US House of Representatives.

Ten Boramy, deputy director of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department at the Ministry of Interior, yesterday declined to comment on Royce’s amendment. Department director Bith Kimhong could not be reached for comment.

US embassy spokesperson Michelle Bennett did not comment directly on the amendment, but said: “While there is still much work to be done to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards, Cambodia is making significant efforts to do so.”

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