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USAID project helps trafficking victims

USAID project helps trafficking victims

While human trafficking remains a serious concern in the Kingdom, a project initiated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) helped 108 victims to receive compensation, while a further 1,482 also benefited from the project.

“Human trafficking is still a serious concern for Cambodia and the world. USAID, through Winrock International, works closely with the Cambodian government to prevent and suppress human trafficking, and rescue and protect victims from this heinous crime. These are some of our main achievements,” USAID said in a statement posted on Twitter last week.

The project, Cambodia Countering Trafficking-in-Persons Program (CTIP), was first implemented in September 2015, and ran to September this year. It secured, supported and rebuilt the lives of 1,482 human-trafficking victims.

The project offered capacity building training to 3,306 institutions which then provided service and counselling to victims of human trafficking. Some 5,215 people were provided livelihood support and soft skills training to prevent them from risky migration.

The programme also mobilised 227 vulnerable people to form an income savings group.

Eang Bunthan, the Knowledge, Learning and Communications manager at Winrock International, said that through cooperation with NGO partners, the project has offered mental and legal counselling, as well as some other important skills to the victims.

“We let them learn professional skills such as motor mechanics. When the training is finished, we buy materials for them to open a shop to repair motorbikes,” he said.

In cooperation with relevant partners, CTIP has brought at least 42 offenders to justice. The 108 victims of human trafficking, including migrant workers, have received compensation from perpetrators through the project’s legal assistance.

“For instance, when migrant workers are found to be exploited abroad, we will provide legal assistance throughout the process and keep monitoring the situation, making sure the perpetrator pays compensation as a local company would in Cambodia,” Bunthan said.

CTIP also coordinates and helps repatriate abused migrant workers and survivors of human trafficking to Cambodia by providing airfares and preparing documentation. Around 234 migrant workers and human-trafficking victims have been repatriated thus far.

According to the US State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons report published in June, the Cambodian government did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking, though it has made significant efforts to do so.

“The [Cambodian] government demonstrated increased efforts compared to the previous reporting period, therefore Cambodia remained in Tier 2."

“The government demonstrated increased efforts by prosecuting and convicting more traffickers, repatriating more Cambodians subjected to trafficking abroad and strengthening efforts to raise awareness on child sexual exploitation in the hospitality industry,” read the report, which also cited rampant graft as a hindrance to the government’s efforts.

“Endemic corruption continued to impede law enforcement operations, criminal proceedings, and victim service providers. The authorities did not issue formal guidance allowing the use of undercover investigative techniques in anti-trafficking operations,” the report said.

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