Indonesian Foreign Minister Talks Scam Compounds With Police Chief

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meets Cambodian National Police chief Neth Savoeun on August 2, 2022. (Retno Marsudi Twitter)
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The Indonesian foreign minister discussed scam operations that trapped Indonesian nationals in a meeting with the head of Cambodia’s National Police, and also met with dozens of people rescued from a compound in Sihanoukville.

Retno Marsudi, the Indonesian foreign minister, is in Cambodia to attend the Asean meeting this week. She met with National Police chief Neth Savoeun on Tuesday, according to her social media post, and discussed the detention of Indonesians at scam operations — which have mushroomed across the country to become hubs of trafficking, forced labor and torture.

“Had a good meeting with Chief of Police of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. We discussed cooperations to address exploitation of Indonesians by online scammer companies and  preventive measures for trafficking in person,” read a tweet from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

A statement from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry pointed out that these cases had been happening since 2021 and that both sides discussed joint operations in the future and mechanisms to assist victims.

Marsudi also met with 62 Indonesian nationals who were victims of “fraud and trafficking” and were rescued from an operation in Sihanoukville.

The Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh has not provided answers to requests for comment.

National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said Savoeun and Marsudi had discussed information-sharing and tackling cross-border crimes during their meeting on August 2.

He did not divulge much information about the 62 Indonesians rescued last week, only to say that they were in the process of being handed over to the embassy and it was an internal matter that was handled by experts.

He said the police had received similar requests from other countries to help crackdown on cross-border crimes, and that Cambodia had used similar channels to help Cambodians overseas.

“We have to respond because we have the same goal. Law-enforcement forces are here to fight against crimes,” he said.

Kim Khoeun said the police were “trying their best” to protect foreign workers and prevent labor abuses for all non-residents working in the country.

Cambodian police officials have downplayed abuses reported at scam operations in the country, including minimizing accounts of forced labor and detention as contract or labor disputes.

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