More Government Meetings Held Over Human Trafficking

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Interior Minister Sar Kheng chairs a meeting in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday and addressed human trafficking in the country. (Sar Kheng’s Facebook)
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Top government officials continued high-level meetings over human trafficking on Monday as Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities ordered all building owners to report foreign residents and workers on their premises by September 24.

Police and other authorities have shown greater attention in the past month to the trafficking of foreign workers to Cambodian scam compounds amid international pressure, including Cambodia’s downgrade in a U.S. report and concerns raised by a U.N. envoy.

They have conducted a series of rescues and raids on scam compounds, removing dozens of foreign workers and arresting some supervisors, though it is still unclear whether the massive global online scam industry is being shut down.

Late Thursday, the Phnom Penh and Chamkarmon district military police forces raided the former Frangipani Living Arts Hotel in Toul Tom Poung, where people were suspected to be held for ransom.

Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said several men and women were arrested around 10 a.m. on Street 123, but would not give details on the suspected crimes.

Meanwhile, Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities ordered all building owners and managers to report any foreigners staying and working on their premises and register the information with commune police before September 24.

Building owners are being asked to sign a document pledging that any workers have visas and clear contracts.

“There is no concealment,” they are asked to sign. “I promise the following: I will not accept foreigners without valid passports or visas to stay and work in my location … not allow human trafficking, labor trafficking, sex trafficking or torture occur in my location.”

“In case I violate any of the above promises, I am responsible in front of the law.”

Provincial spokesman Kheang Phearum said Interior Minister Sar Kheng further held a meeting in the province on Monday to organize the crackdown on human trafficking.

Kheng had received 186 complaints and reports of trafficking since starting a dedicated anti-trafficking hotline last month, he said.

Say Sam Al, the environment minister who is also held of the provincial working group, attended the meeting, alongside Justice Minister Keut Rith and the heads of the province, National Police and national military police.

The meeting came after the Council of Ministers issued a report to Kheng on Friday to increase the “fight against human trafficking” to rescue victims, search for perpetrators, bring them to justice and crack down on illegal gambling. The report added that the search should be expanded to find money laundering offenses.

But it also instructed authorities to respond to the dissemination of provocative information and request corrections “in order to neutralize negative attacks from various circles both inside and outside the country, and to avoid the effects on the political environment and social security.”

The Justice Ministry on Friday also established a task force to coordinate investigations and rescues of foreigners in suspicious locations and strengthen the prosecution of human trafficking.

Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the work would build on past work to fight against human trafficking via the courts.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Friday that 24 further Malaysian human trafficking victims had been rescued from Cambodia, but at least 30 remained missing, AP reported.

Additional reporting by Phin Rathana

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