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US trafficking report ‘fails to reflect truths’

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Chou Bun Eng, the permanent vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking of Cambodia (NCCT). Heng Chivoan

US trafficking report ‘fails to reflect truths’

The National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) on Wednesday took issue with the US human trafficking report which gave the Kingdom low marks for not meeting minimum standards to curb the practice.

The US Department of Sate released a report on global human trafficking in June, placing Cambodia on the Tier 2 watch list.

The report claimed that while the Cambodian government had made strong efforts and continues to prosecute traffickers, it did not demonstrate an overall increase in efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

It alleged the authorities did not improve on insufficient efforts to collect or share key information, while corruption continued to impede law enforcement operations, criminal proceedings, and victim service provisions.

While commending Cambodia for establishing a five-year action plan to combat trafficking using new data collection technologies, it urged the government to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offences, authorise the use of undercover investigative techniques and increase funding.

The report recommends: “[Cambodia] increase unannounced labour inspections in high-vulnerability professions, especially at brick kilns, fisheries, and plantations, with a focus on identifying debt bondage.

“The government needs to take steps to eliminate recruitment or placement fees charged to workers by labour recruiters and ensure they are instead paid by employers.”

Ministry of Interior secretary of state and NCCT vice-chair Chou Bun Eng refuted the report, saying Cambodia cannot fulfil the standards as demanded overnight.

“We are making efforts to fulfil the recommendations, but the important thing is assessment. If [the US] claims we are not making any effort, then that is not right.

“We also wonder about this assessment. We wrote to tell them we have done more than before, but they replied we have done less. So, we see double standards,” she said.

She said the NCCT is establishing plans to do whatever it takes to mitigate risks and eliminate human trafficking.

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