The ministries of Interior and Labour have laid out a six-month action plan to inspect the work status of foreigners, as it prepares to expand operations and combat all forms of human trafficking and labour exploitation.

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng said the owners and managers of large businesses and manufacturing enterprises appeared to have gained a better understanding of immigration and labour laws and were following them more closely.

Despite this, an inter-ministerial commission has laid out the six-month action plan to conduct inspections. The plan began in January and would conclude in June.

He explained that the plan is divided into two phases. From January to March, an education campaign would be conducted to ensure that all employers understand their responsibilities.

“During this stage, we will require all businesses that employ foreign workers to complete declaration cards about their work status. The cards must be returned to the nearest labour department by March 15,” he said.

The second stage will last until the end of June. During this phase, inspections will be carried out to ensure that the declarations are correct.

“These plans will support the fight against all forms of human trafficking, labour exploitation, sex trade, illegal gambling, online scams, drug crimes and money laundering,” he continued.

Samheng announced that every inspection would require the coordination of municipal and provincial court prosecutors. If other offences are discovered, inspectors should report it to municipal and provincial governors and ask them to take legal action.

The labour ministry said the issuance of work permits had climbed from just 400 in 2013 to 207,886 in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in a decrease in the number of foreigners employed in Cambodia, with 181,563 work permits issued in 2022.

Interior minister Sar Kheng urged the inter-ministerial commission to continue to focus on its goals.

He also appealed to foreign employees and employers to ensure that they obey the labour regulations to avoid prosecution.

“If any evidence of human trafficking, labour exploitation or sex trade is discovered, the inspectors must report it immediately to both the inter-ministerial commission and the nearest police command,” he said.