Police are preparing inspections of all foreigners’ accommodations to look for criminality and illegal migrants after the U.S. dropped Cambodia to its lowest rank for human trafficking, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said.
In a speech at a police academy in Kandal on Tuesday, Kheng continued to object to Cambodia dropping to “Tier 3” in the U.S.’s Trafficking in Persons report last week as the U.S. was cooperating in Cambodia’s anti-human trafficking measures.
“How can this drop to three since we have willingness?” Kheng said. “This is the issue that we do not understand, but now we have to work and must not fold our hands.”
As part of renewed efforts against human trafficking, police will inspect all foreigners’ living situations, he said.
“We will work on this thoroughly to check the accommodations in the Kingdom of Cambodia for all foreigners, except diplomats and diplomatic officials,” he said. “All people who come to work at various construction sites and private companies and investment companies will be inspected.”
The purpose of the inspections would be to see whether the foreigners had come to Cambodia legally, whether they worked in Cambodia under legal conditions, and whether they had faced human trafficking, he said.
“Sometimes they hide them in a guesthouse or hotel or casino, and torture or hurt or traffic them,” he said. “We will do it all and we will check it clearly.”
Kheng added that warnings around human trafficking also related to money laundering, and Cambodia could face being put on a blacklist by the Financial Action Task Force. The country is currently on a watchlist.
“The graylist is not good for us, and if it moves to black, it will become even worse — our banking system will find it difficult to” transfer money, he said. Delays in transfers could increase from mere minutes to weeks, he said.
“Criminals can use the money from human trafficking to serve terrorist and support the production of nuclear [weapons].”
He added that negotiation with the U.S. about deportations of Cambodians were still underway.
National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said plans were still being drawn for the inspections of foreigners.
A series of accounts have emerged of foreign workers being trafficked to Cambodia and being forced to work in scam compounds across the country, where they can face debt bondage and torture.
Kheng’s words about human trafficking were not included in a video of his speech he posted to his Facebook page.
More Than 1,200 Civil Servants Transfer to Police
More than 1,200 civil servants have transferred to the police and they will need to be gradually put through police training, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said in the same police academy speech.
Kheng said new officials up to the deputy department director level had been going through training so far, and higher positions would soon take the course.
“Next term there will be more powerful people,” Kheng said, arguing that there was “no honor” in police officials who did not have police training. The training would also help maintain the quality of the force, he said.
Kheng did not explain why there had been more transfers or where they had come from, and did not give a timeframe for the 1,200 transfers.
“You must learn first and then you can wear the police uniform. There are so many cases like this, and please take all of them for studying,” he said.
He also cautioned police officers about bragging about their positions, especially after promotions. “If you want people to know you, don’t threaten or intimidate other people, but do good things so that people will know you,” he said.