Briefs: 62 Indonesians Rescued From Scams, New District Governors

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Phnom Penh City Hall. (Hy Chhay/VOD)
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The Indonesian Embassy worked to rescue 62 nationals from captivity at Sihanoukville scam compounds over the weekend, according to Indonesian media.

Citing the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, Indonesian magazine Tempo said 55 nationals were freed on Saturday and a further seven on Sunday with cooperation from Cambodian police.

The human trafficking victims would be interviewed and receive psychological counseling before being sent back to Indonesia, likely on Sunday night, Tempo said.

The 55 rescued on Saturday consisted of 47 men and eight women, it said.

The magazine gave coordinates of 10°37’33.0″N 103°30’08.7”E for the Sihanoukville compound where the victims had been held captive. They point to a location near Santepheap St. in Bei commune. The case came to light when someone posted a comment to the Facebook page of the Central Java governor, Tempo said.

Cambodian authorities have downplayed the trafficking of foreign workers to scam operations in the country despite ongoing reports. Police officers near the Vietnam border in Kampot and in Sihanoukville told reporters earlier this year that the plight of workers not being allowed to leave could merely be part of their work and contract. However, rescued victims have spoken of beatings and torture if they refused to work at the criminal organizations, in compounds with barred windows and barbed wire fencing.

Last month, as the U.S. downgraded Cambodia’s human trafficking rating in part due to the scam compounds, the country’s top anti-trafficking official called the downgrade an “injustice” since the government had worked to combat other forms of trafficking. NGOs and the government have largely focused on the trafficking of Cambodians abroad, but foreign workers say there are thousands working at compounds in the country to perpetrate global scams, often against their will.

The Indonesian Embassy has not yet provided responses to questions.

— Michael Dickison

Phnom Penh Gets New District Governors

Three new district governors have been appointed in Phnom Penh, while six sitting governors were transferred to other districts, the municipality or the Interior Ministry.

In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen dated July 26, six governors were transferred.

  • Meanchey district governor Pech Keo Mony was transferred to work at a council in the Interior Ministry.
  • Pur Senchey district governor Hem Dartih was transferred to Meanchey district.
  • Boeng Keng Kang district governor Thim Sam An was transferred to Prek Pnov district.
  • Prek Pnov district governor Sok Sambath was transferred to Beong Keng Kang district.
  • Prampi Makara district governor Lim Sophea was transferred to Chroy Changva district.
  • Chamkarmon district governor Theng Sothol was transferred to Prampi Makara district.

The government also appointed three new governors:

  • Sak Chankanharith to Pur Senchey district.
  • Kieng Leak to Chamkarmon district.
  • Chea Khema to Daun Penh district.

In a separate sub-decree dated July 26, Prime Minister appointed sitting Chroy Changva district governor Klaing Huot, Daun Penh district governor Sok Penhvuth and Interior Ministry immigration deputy Hun Sorithy to be Phnom Penh deputy municipal governors.

The government announced an increase in provincial and district deputy governors in June, a move analysts said would only increase political appointees and have no impact on improving governance.

— Ouch Sony

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