Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice minister: Trafficking shall remain judiciary’s focus

Justice minister: Trafficking shall remain judiciary’s focus

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Justice minister Koeut Rith leads a meeting on taking strict action against human trafficking, money laundering and sexual exploitation on September 16. JUSTICE MINISTRY

Justice minister: Trafficking shall remain judiciary’s focus

Minister of Justice Koeut Rith has urged improvements to the quality of the courts and tribunals when it comes to cases involving labour trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The call came on September 16 at a meeting aimed at action on human trafficking, money laundering and sexual exploitation. The meeting sought to enhance effectiveness and speed up procedures relevant to these types of crime.

Koeut Rith suggested that prosecutors cooperate comprehensively with law enforcement officers to carry out operations to combat all forms of labour trafficking, exploitation and sex trafficking.

He added that the judiciary also needs to expedite investigations of money laundering crimes in a timely manner. Judges, prosecutors and all court officials should focus their attention on strengthening their own abilities to combat these types of crimes as an efficient campaign against these crimes is crucial to the Kingdom’s socio-economic development, he added.

The instructions came months after the US Department of State issued a report downgrading Cambodia’s human trafficking ranking.

But Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the meeting was not held in response to the US report, explaining that these types of meetings were held regularly.

“This meeting aimed to further strengthen our capacities. The aforementioned crimes have particular natures, so we meet regularly to exchange our experiences in order to deal with them more effectively,” he added.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said the ministry has the role of managing court officials and plays an important role in maintaining security and public order, while guaranteeing justice and equality before the law.

“The justice ministry plays a key role in investigating these crimes, while the courts uphold the law. It is clear that the judiciary plays a very important role in major crimes, including human trafficking and drugs,” he added.

He noted that under Koeut Rith, the ministry has carried out reforms in the judiciary and launched campaigns to clear a backlog of court cases which in turn eased prison overcrowding, coupled with the release of prisoners who were near the end of their sentences on parole.

“We have also often seen Koeut Rith reminding the courts or prosecutors about these goals. The government and the ministry have recently shown their willingness to curb human trafficking by setting up specialised commissions – this was part of their efforts to influence the courts to work more effectively,” he said.

In downgrading the Kingdom’s ranking to Tier 3 in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP), the US report alleged that the Cambodian government did not meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to do so, even considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its capacity.

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng countered at the time that the US shared the blame as it had been cooperating with Cambodian authorities and other partners to address the issue.

No matter what ranking, he said Cambodia would continue to work to identify – and resolve – any weaknesses in may have in its anti-trafficking mechanisms.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10