A recent meeting between social affairs minister Vong Soth and Kamei Haruko, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Cambodia, resulted in renewed commitments to redouble efforts to end human trafficking activity in the Kingdom.

The outgoing JICA representative said she was happy that she was here for the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Japan and Cambodia, and that she sees it as a great way to cap off her mission here.

Kamei requested at the March 27 meeting that the ministry continue to strengthen cooperation with JICA experts on human trafficking so that all of their efforts and work would have a positive impact.

Soth said human trafficking is a complex issue that requires the participation of all stakeholders as it is systematic and often linked from one country to another and run by organised crime or mafia groups that are transnational in operations.

Soth thanked Kamei for her role in furthering Cambodia’s development and her work representing JICA. He said the Cambodian people will always be grateful for the help that Japan provided in the past few decades, a time when it was urgently needed and few other nations were eager to step in at the level of investment that Japan could and did.

In this regards, Chou Bun Eng, Ministry of Interior secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), said on March 28 that the continued strengthening of cooperation between the social affairs ministry and JICA was highly commended.

She noted that Cambodia needs the participation and cooperation of other countries to be able to do this work, and that recently cases of human trafficking in Cambodia have decreased remarkably due to the efforts of stakeholders and their commitment to anti-human trafficking.

“Despite the decline of cases in the country, what is happening again is called ‘influencer trafficking’ and it begins by recruiting people from abroad. So, it is something that we have to cooperate on and remain vigilant about, so we want to have even more cooperation,” she said.

Soeng Sen Karuna, spokesman for local rights group ADHOC, said cooperation to prevent human trafficking can reduce the cases drastically if law enforcement is willing to punish those who are responsible for it.

“In Cambodia, there are two problems. First, Khmer people themselves are being trafficked as well as foreigners, and second, there are also many cases of people being cheated or exploited through all kinds of online games and gambling and other fraudulent schemes that take advantage of the lack of tech and digital sophistication among some of the Kingdom’s rural residents, especially compared to city-dwellers here and in other countries,” he said.