A senior official at the Ministry of Interior emphasised the significance of the National Inter-Faith Day Against Human Trafficking, observed on August 20 this year under the theme “Moral People, Safe Society, No Human Trafficking”. Its purpose is to reinforce ethical values and foster a collective stance against human trafficking.

Chou Bun Eng, ministry secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), noted that the interfaith initiatives – involving Christianity, Buddhism and Islam – was initially slated to convene under the auspices of caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen. However, due to pressing governmental commitments in forming the new administration after the 2023 general election, the meeting had to be postponed.

“[Hun Sen] was to preside over the consultative assembly which will set the agenda for the initiative. However, he had been fully occupied with the demanding task of forming the new government,” she explained.

Bun Eng went on to elaborate on the theme.

“The chosen theme stems from our belief that prevailing global and local issues have led to insecurity and suffering caused by unscrupulous individuals.

“Instilling adherence to ethical principles could substantially diminish, or even prevent, such incidents. Hence, we are urging religious communities to actively engage in educating and guiding the faithful,” she said.

In the present year, she rallied all members of the interfaith movement to collectively combat human trafficking by upholding the virtuous tenets of their respective faiths. This, she contended, would alleviate suffering and prevent the perpetration of sinful acts.

Religious leaders from Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have collaborated on interfaith forums since 2017, but this is the first time that it has taken the form of a national day.

Hun Sen formally inaugurated the National Inter-Faith Day Against Human Trafficking on September 29, 2022, designating August 20 annually for this purpose. He stressed the necessity of interreligious collaboration in tackling the pervasive issue of human trafficking not only in Cambodia but also across international borders.

“We require the united effort of all faiths to combat human trafficking in Cambodia and beyond, as this issue transcends geographical boundaries,” said Hun Sen.