Siem Reap, Cambodia, 30th July 2019 – On the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, we strongly urge the ASEAN countries to take effective measures to combat Human Trafficking and provide support to survivors to rehabilitate their lives in the community.
Human Trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. Since 2003 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has collected information on about 225,000 victims of trafficking detected worldwide.
In 2008, the Government of Cambodia introduced the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, which criminalizes all forms of trafficking. However, the country remains a source, destination, and transit area for men, women, and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor, as reflected in the United States Department “Trafficking in Persons report” (TIP) 2019.
Traffickers continue to recruit significant numbers of Cambodian adults and children. Many of them are forced to work on fishing vessels, in agriculture, in construction, in factories, in domestic servitude and sex industries. The misguided motivation from traffickers is often through debt-based coercion or the promise of financial gains.
Voeun Von is a 36 year-old fisherman, returned to Cambodia after being rescued by Brunei naval authorities while adrift in Malaysian water. “One day I was sleeping on the upper bunk, I overheard my colleagues sleeping on the lower bunks discuss about how to kill me”. To escape from an attempted murder aboard the Thai fishing vessel, Voeun, one of We World-GVC’s Social Ambassadors, chose to jump into the sea.
Rural farming families, especially women and girls from rural areas, as well as children from impoverished families and children left behind by families migrating abroad for work, are at higher risk of many forms of forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Chantha is the eldest daughter in a family of three siblings; she lives with her grandparents in a small house. Her mother is preparing her daughter to get married to a Chinese man. “Even if my daughter knows the broker, I am worried about my grandchild. She is very young and I heard a lot of bad things about people with children married in China”, says the grandmother.
It’s crucial to increase awareness on safe migration for all and support those who choose to seek employment in another province or Thailand. “We want to see that girls are safe and to know what kind of job, salary, and accommodation they have to make sure they are supported” explains a Free To Shine Social Worker.
On the 2019 World Day Against Trafficking UNODC is focusing on highlighting the importance of Government action in the interest of victims of trafficking.
H.E. Chou Bun Eng, the ministry’s secretary of state, said she regretted the US government’s decision to place Cambodia in the second-tier watch list classification in its human trafficking report. In fact, the number of victims saved from human, sex trafficking has risen by 148%, according to the National Committee for Counter-Trafficking that released a report on Tuesday, 21st July, during an inter-ministerial meeting.
In the first six months of this year, authorities cracked down on 78 cases of human and sex trafficking and rescued 263 victims. This is an increase of 25 and 148 per cent respectively compared to the same period last year, the National Committee said.
“We can say our increased efforts in investigations led to more crackdowns and more convictions than last year. We saved more victims compared to the same period last year, so of course we have done better,” the ministry’s secretary of state, H.E. Chou Bun Eng, said.
As Non-Government Organizations working to combat Human trafficking in Cambodia, we celebrate the successes of the Cambodian Government and continue to seek close cooperative working relationships on these difficult cases. We encourage increased emphasis on the issue of Human trafficking by the Cambodian Government as we all seek to preserve and protect the welfare and dignity of Cambodian people.
Our organisations wish to strongly call the NGOs and civil society to continue to raise their voice and strengthen their commitment to stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit and to help victims rehabilitate their lives. We urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to continue to take effective measures to tackle trafficking in persons through:
- taking stronger measures to crackdown on the crime of trafficking and punish traffickers, and ensure actual compensation for victims, especially for cross border cases;
- establishing a fund for victims of human trafficking and allocating sufficient budget to support the victims, especially for the repatriation and reintegration process and for the rescue process in destination countries.
The signatory organisations are: Adhoc (Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association), Free To Shine, Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW), Ratanak International, We World-GVC.