Minister of Interior Sar Kheng and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian on September 27 met for cooperation talk on combating transnational crimes.
During the meeting, Sar Kheng affirmed that the government is committed to cracking down on all kinds of cross-border crimes and is willing to cooperate with the authorities of countries in the region and beyond.
He noted that Cambodia is being exploited by criminals, and thanked China for its cooperation in preventing and suppressing these kinds of crimes thus far.
The minister requested that Chinese authorities continue to support this work by investigating the criminal organisations behind these illegal transnational crimes, pledging that Cambodia will continue to make efforts to investigate and suppress those criminals who reside within its borders.
Wang hailed the efforts of the interior ministry for its cooperation in combating all kinds of crimes to serve the mutual benefit of the people of both countries.
As part of efforts to clamp down on transnational crime, Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities rounded up nearly 900 foreigners in two separate raids and locations during the course of a three-day operation just last week. Many of the suspects were identified as illegal aliens in the Kingdom and had links to illegal online gambling, human trafficking and prostitution.
According to an official press release, the provincial authorities worked with the National Police’s Central Security Department and the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration – along with the provincial court prosecutor – to coordinate the inspections from September 19-22.
During the first raid, eight buildings registered to Jing Chhay Technology in Village 3 of Sihanoukville’s Commune I were inspected, with the business licences and immigration status of all foreign employees closely examined.
Authorities discovered 469 foreigners of 10 nationalities including Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian and Thai.
Officers noted that 168 of the suspects were not in possession of valid passports, and that 236 were determined to be working without work permits in Cambodia. They imposed fines and also collected 118 million riel ($28,440) in unpaid work permit fees.
As a result of the inspections, officers identified offences including illegal online gambling, human trafficking and prostitution.
In the second raid, a total of 414 foreigners of five nationalities were identified at Galaxy World in Sihanoukville’s Commune IV.
The ministry’s Department of Anti-Commercial Gambling is building cases related to online gambling and continued to investigate money laundering crimes. The Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection bureau of the provincial police are building cases of human trafficking and prostitution, with some already sent to court.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said large-scale crackdown on illegal gambling is a good thing, but one important aspect is to enforce laws equally.
“The laws already exist, so they should just enforce them instead of awaiting orders from the national level. It is also important to make sure that there are no officials associated with any of these criminal enterprises,” he said.
The recent large-scale operations came after Prime Minister Hun Sen – as well as interior minister Sar Kheng – ordered a crackdown on illegal gambling sites across the country, saying they led to many other crimes. The early September calls were intended to maintain social order and ensure the success of the safe village and commune policy.
In the first nine months of 2022, the General Department of Immigration (GDI) has deported a total of 1,450 foreigners from Cambodia – including 279 women – of 32 nationalities. On September 23 alone, GDI deported 230 foreigners, 50 of them women.
GDI deputy director-general Keo Vanthan told The Post on September 27 that the deported foreigners had been arrested for illegal entry, a lack of passports, and overstaying or breaching the conditions of their visas.
He said that recent deportees were 228 Vietnamese nationals and two Chinese nationals. The deportations were carried out in line with immigration laws, via Phnom Penh International Airport and the Prek Chak International Checkpoint.
“We arrested the 230 foreigners for illegally residing in the Kingdom – without passports, overstaying or misusing their visas – in violation of immigration laws,” he added.