Minister of Interior Sar Kheng ordered relevant authorities to freeze the assets of those found to be involved in human trafficking and illegal logging.
Sar Kheng was speaking at the annual Interfaith Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in the capital on Wednesday.
The forum was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Cults and Religion, Caritas Cambodia, and Buddhist, Muslim and Catholic spiritual leaders, as well as NGOs working on human trafficking issues in the Kingdom.
He said human traffickers were generally greedy and enriched themselves by deceiving their poor, illiterate and innocent victims with promises of a better life.
“Be it drugs, human trafficking or illegal timber dealing, it is not enough to just arrest and bring them to justice. That would be useless, so we also have to stop their dirty money circulating. We need to freeze their assets,” he said.
A report issued by the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) said police tackled 78 cases of human trafficking and saved 263 victims in the first six months of this year. That represented an increase of 25 and 148 per cent respectively, compared to the same period last year.
Phnom Penh municipal and provincial courts, the report showed, had sentenced 101 people to prison and released 25 on bail. Another 63 cases are pending.
Sar Kheng also urged the relevant authorities to step up their efforts in combating human trafficking. The appeal came after the US Department of Defence downgraded Cambodia’s ranking in its human trafficking report, placing the Kingdom in its Tier2 Watch list.
The minister further called for collaboration between the authorities and those in religious circles to help fight against such trafficking to improve the country’s ranking.
NCCT’s permanent vice-chairwoman Chou Bun Eng said at the forum that human trafficking had affected the victims and their families.
“In Cambodia, the government has striven to overcome hurdles in suppressing trafficking, punishing traffickers, rescuing victims and actively protecting them.
“In the first six months of this year, we have put greater effort in promoting education and public awareness and implementing action plans to prevent and stop it. We have tried all means to spread the word – directly and indirectly,” she said.