Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told reporters that over October 2-3, the ministry received 18 complaints summated by outside individuals and organisations who are searching for 52 people thought to be somewhere in the Kingdom.

The cases are possibly related to human trafficking.

Civil society organisation officials said this was clear evidence Cambodia still has cases of human trafficking involving forced labour and involuntary confinement taking place.

Sopheak said that the 52 people who were being searched for were all foreigners, with 12 from China, 33 from Vietnam and seven from Thailand. For now, Cambodian police are continuing to investigate all 18 complaints in order to locate all 52 of these individuals.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said that the ministry receiving so many complaints over just two days regarding missing persons in Cambodia was strong evidence that there are still cases of confinement in Cambodia despite the authorities’ efforts to crack down on these crimes.

“In fact, lately the authorities have cracked down on the traffickers and helped many foreigners who were victims of trafficking in casinos and gambling dens, but this campaign is not yet finished and we encourage the authorities to continue their efforts.

“I understand that it is not easy to crack down on all of these cases and that it requires a lot of resources and cooperation at home and abroad, but as the prime minister and interior minister both have said very clearly, doing so is a matter of national honour and basic morality,” he said.

Sam Ath asked that the government examine the details of the foreign businessmen who have invested in Cambodia to ensure that the anti-trafficking campaign is highly effective and roots out the causes.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 29 called on the authorities and all stakeholders to work together to fight against human trafficking and illegal gambling and related crimes so that Cambodia does not become a haven for organised criminal gangs.

He said this is a big campaign, but with specific goals that the government is working on and will continue to.

According to the interior ministry, since Cambodia launched this large-scale campaign, the ministry has received 402 complaints seeking a total of 976 people of 11 nationalities.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng previously stated that police investigations had indicated that 95 per cent of trafficking complaints were legitimate and this came as an unwelcome surprise to the government.

The authorities have shut down five companies and suspended their business licences and they continue to search for other individuals and companies engaged in these practices. So far, over the course of their raids and operations, the authorities have rescued 485 foreigners and arrested 53 suspects.