Three suspects were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday accused of transnational human trafficking. They were arrested in the capital’s Daun Penh district on Tuesday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office chief Keo Thea told The Post that the three – all Cambodians – were detained as a part of a joint operation with Daun Penh district authorities.
They were allegedly planning to smuggle two victims, including a minor, to China via Vietnam. Authorities have returned the victims to their relatives’ care in their hometowns, according to Thea.
Thea identified the suspects as Cambodian national, 21, male, private employee; Cambodian national, 21, male, security guard; and Cambodian national, 27, female, karaoke parlour employee.
A Phnom Penh municipal police report said the victims agreed to travel to China after a female intermediary tempted them with the promise of $2,000 to $3,000.
The victims, who did not hold valid passports, were promised by the intermediary that it would only take one day to have travel documents issued. After this, the report said, the victims were to travel to Ho Chi Minh City before another intermediary would receive them for the final leg of their journey to China.
Thea said the arrests were made after an exhaustive search lasting several days, before joint forces finally tracked the group down to Van Rec bus station on the corner of Street 49 in Phsar Thmey III commune.
A 2018 UN study titled Forced Marriages Between Cambodia and China revealed that Chinese clients pay brokers $10,000 to $20,000 to have women from Cambodia brought to the mainland.
The victims unassumingly arrive in China with tourist visas that are often only valid for one month, which prompts brokers to demand the victims pay the cost of the trip, often pressuring them to enter the sex trade or marry local men, according to the UN study.
A total of 986 Cambodian trafficking victims were repatriated from nine countries in 2017, said official figures from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
This included 382 victims from Malaysia, Thailand (288), Vietnam (171), China (53), Laos (49), Indonesia (23), Japan (12), Singapore (five) and Myanmar (three).
Yim Voreak, the deputy secretary-general for the Ministry of Interior’s National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking told The Post that the government had established a four-year National Plan of Action until 2023 to address the concern.