Wednesday, 24 September 2008

To Stamp Out Human Trafficking It Has to Be Done in Wide Cooperation

Posted on 24 September 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 578

“Phnom Penh: Some human trafficking inside of the country and internationally always happens and changes into different forms. However, human trafficking could be stamped out in Cambodia efficiently, if all relevant sectors and sides are involved, and it has to be done in a wide cooperation.

“At a national conferences about stamping out human trafficking in Cambodia, held on 15 and 16 September 2008 at the Hotel Cambodiana, H.E. Ho Non, chairperson of the Commission on Public Health, Social Welfare and Labor, and Women’s and Veteran’s Affairs , stated that human trafficking, particularly of women and children, remains a complicated issue to which the Royal Government and the National Assembly have to put further efforts to solve it.

“H.E. Ho Non added that human trafficking occurs in Cambodia in different forms, and there are various causes, such as war, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, modernization, and poor social morality . As for the elimination of human trafficking, it cannot be solved by one institution alone, but it has to be attacked by all relevant sectors and sides, and it has to be implemented in cooperation.

“H.E. Mu Sochua, the Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary general and former Minister of Women’s Affairs, said that efficiency does not depend on the existence of laws, but on the respect and enforcement of laws.

“Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, the Director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that if we want to prevent human trafficking efficiently, there have to be reforms, such as the strengthening of procedures and of the competency of the police, and law enforcement officials must be neutral and must not have a bias towards any party.

“Mr. Sok Sam Oeun emphasized that laws against human trafficking have been well developed, but efforts to stamp out human trafficking are not yet sufficient.

“H.E. Mu Sochua, the Minister of Women’s Affairs between 1994 and 2004, continued, ‘If there is no court reform, and police and law enforcement officials do not place law enforcement as their top priority and are corrupt, there can be no improvement. Also, the government has to help to find solutions by engaging in socio-economic development, and law enforcement officials have to be independent.

“Nevertheless, H.E. Ho Non said that the Royal Government, led wisely by Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, always focuses on human trafficking, and it has created a [national anti-trafficking] task force to lead the fight against trafficking against the exploitation of human labor, and against sex exploitation on women and children, while the relevant ministries have publicized and implemented laws to bring perpetrators of human trafficking to be convicted.

“According to a report of the [Cambodian] Ministry of Interior published in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 of the US Department of State on June 2008, 65 human trafficking perpetrators were arrested and 52 were prosecuted by courts between April 2007 and March 2008. 188 [?] women were victimized by human trafficking [???].” Amnach Reas, Vol.1, #23, 22-28.9.2008


From the Cambodia section of the Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 (starting at page 31):
“Due to resource constraints, the government has not provided reliable statistics on prosecution.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported receiving complaints of 53 trafficking cases from April 2007 to March 2008; thirty-five cases were sex trafficking involving 60 victims and 11 were labor trafficking cases involving 106 victims. Police took action on 43 cases. The MOI reported that 65 traffickers were arrested during the reporting period. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted 52 trafficking offenders. The MOI Department of Anti-Trafficking and Juvenile Protection reported 52 cases, involving 65 trafficking offenders that resulted in eight convictions.
NGOs reported 19 labor trafficking cases involving legal migrants who ended up in conditions of involuntary servitude in Malaysia, but Cambodian labor recruitment companies usually paid compensation and were not prosecuted for criminal offenses. There were no cases of labor agents being held responsible for the trafficking of migrant workers, or being prosecuted. In February 2008, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Ministry of Commerce to annul business licenses for marriage agencies, calling the business a form of human trafficking.

Corruption is pervasive in Cambodia, and it is widely believed that some individuals, including police and judicial officials, are involved in trafficking. In an important move that sent a signal that corruption will not be tolerated by senior government officials, an investigation into the Chhay Hour II brothel case resulted in the removal of the President of the Appeals Court for trafficking related corruption. The same investigation resulted in three other judges and one deputy prosecutor of the Appeals Court receiving official letters of reprimand. The MOI Anti-Human Trafficking Juvenile Protection Department Director administratively transferred two police officers who were convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2006 by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for trafficking related corruption. While these anti-corruption efforts are laudable, officials involved in trafficking must ultimately be punished with jail time, not merely administrative penalties.”
(from pages 32 and 33)
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