Police Say No Issue Found in Complaint of 20 Japanese Confined in Sihanoukville

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Police in Sihanoukville in September 2022. (Mech Dara/VOD)
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UPDATED — Immigration police investigated the alleged confinement of 20 Japanese nationals at a Sihanoukville hotel but found no problems, the Interior Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the authorities’ hotline received an anonymous complaint on Tuesday that 20 Japanese nationals were being confined at the Mary Beach Hotel in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune.

Preah Sihanouk immigration police investigated the complaint the same day, visiting the hotel on O’Tres beach. But they found nothing suspicious, Sopheak said.

“We went and we found 19 people. There was nothing and they were staying normally,” he said.

Police allowed the 19 Japanese nationals to stay, but are continuing to monitor the site, Sopheak said.

Following months of reports about confinement and forced labor at scam compounds in Sihanoukville and around the country, the Interior Ministry opened a hotline and received hundreds of human-trafficking complaints. More than 1,000 trafficked foreign nationals were found, Interior Minister Sar Kheng has said.

Workers rescued from the compounds have spoken of tens of thousands of foreign nationals perpetrating global scams from Cambodian compounds, through fake romances, cryptocurrency and other schemes.

Some alleged violence, torture and forced labor, with the syndicates demanding of tens of thousands of dollars from those wanting to leave. Families overseas trying to rescue their trapped relatives made repeated calls for help to Cambodian authorities, who largely denied the situation over several months.

The Japanese Embassy said Thursday evening that the embassy was checking the situation with Cambodian authorities and could not make a statement at the moment.

“The Embassy has made its efforts to protect Japanese citizens who were faced with various difficult situations in Cambodia and it will continue to do so. The Embassy always advises Japanese nationals to give necessary caution about safety in Cambodia including Sihanoukville,” said embassy counsellor Kubo Tomoko.

Updated on January 27 with comment from the Japanese Embassy.

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