The National Committee for Counter-Trafficking (NCCT) and Winrock International signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on counter-trafficking in persons (CTIP) activity to increase cooperation to contribute to the fight against human trafficking and to improve the effectiveness of anti-trafficking measures in Cambodia.

Chou Bun Eng, Ministry of Interior secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the NCCT, signed the MoU with Mark Taylor, Winrock’s CTIP chief of party on March 1.

According to the MoU, this will strengthen cooperation in response to the recommendations for Cambodia set out in the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons report and improve the effectiveness of anti-trafficking measures.

Bun Eng said the NCCT was very happy to closely collaborate with Winrock CTIP in the fight against human trafficking. She said there were a lot of things they can do together, in addition to what they have been doing thus far, to combat human trafficking more effectively.

“We will look into the National Strategic Plan for Combating Trafficking and discuss how Winrock CTIP can help achieve the planned results according to the set objectives in the plan,” she added.

With funding support provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Cambodia, CTIP will support migrants and at-risk persons through innovative livelihood and skill-building opportunities, thereby reducing the incentive to seek risky work opportunities far from home.

Taylor said Cambodia CTIP was very pleased to reaffirm its support for the NCCT today through the signing of the MoU with Bun Eng

“The NCCT has grown into a highly effective body of coordination of the Cambodian government’s anti-trafficking efforts, and it serves as a model for others in the region and beyond. CTIP looks forward to achieving success together with the NCCT and its members in the shared fight against human trafficking over the next five years,” he added.

In a press release on March 1, Winrock International said that in 2021 the pandemic exacerbated the overall situation in the Kingdom with an influx of returned migrants from neighbouring countries and increased unemployment of local workers inside the country due to closures of factories and business establishments to curb the spread of the virus.

The press release added that during most parts of the year, social activities were restricted while increased online activities created more opportunities for perpetrators to engage in various types of online exploitation.

According to the NCCT, 400 suspects were arrested during the year as the result of an operation to crack down on trafficking-related cases. Police investigated 235 cases in 2021, a huge increase of 191 compared to only 44 in 2020.

The NCCT said that since the launch in August of last year, CTIP has supported the NCCT to increase the coverage of its training on how to identify victims of human trafficking and provide appropriate services to front-line officials in districts bordering Thailand in Battambang province.

CTIP also embarked upon its prevention effort via outreach to vulnerable communities to educate them on human trafficking and safer migration as well as carrying on the mid-term evaluation of the National Strategic Plan for Counter-Trafficking and revisiting victim identification guidelines at the national level.