From January 1 through August 20, Cambodian authorities have identified 87 cases of suspected human trafficking and rescued 865 people. 60 people have been brought before the courts, in 17 cases.

Interior minister Sar Kheng, who also serves as chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) released a call for action against this crime on August 26.

He said since the beginning of August, the authorities had launched seven operations, rescuing 25 victims from six different nations and detained 23 suspects from four different countries in Preah Sihanouk, Pursat, Svay Rieng and Oddar Meanchey provinces. The authorities continue to investigate more cases.

Based on questioned victims, a large number of these foreigners were deceived by criminals who have recruiters in their countries and conspirators in Cambodia. They were tricked into coming to Cambodia by the promise of high paying jobs.

Once they arrived however, they were forced to work in illegal online gambling and had become victims of human trafficking. The criminals often transferred them from one group to another without their consent. In some cases, they had suffered violence and threats if they failed to follow the orders of the criminals.

Sar Kheng said that for more than a year, the authorities have received requests and complaints from foreigners and a number of foreign missions in Cambodia for rescue operations for their citizens, usually with claims that they were victims of trafficking.

After carefully examining the requests, the authorities launched rescue operations and waived fines due to their immigration statuses. They were then deported from the Kingdom according to standard procedure.

Sar Kheng expressed his sympathy and condemned these inhumane acts.

“I welcome the information provided by individuals and foreign missions in Cambodia so far regarding the above cases,” he said.

The Government of Cambodia remained strongly committed to combating online scams, drug offenses, money laundering, and illegal online gambling and continued to provide support to both Cambodian victims of trafficking abroad and foreigners who were trafficked into Cambodia.

Recently, the NCCT introduced operational plans to increase the fight against all forms of human trafficking, labour trafficking and sexual exploitation, and established an operational command to direct and order the operation to crack down and rescue victims.

Sar Kheng called on members of the national and international public, foreign missions in Cambodia and the authorities of all countries concerned to continue to provide information regarding human trafficking and other transnational crimes.

“I firmly hope that the national and international public, foreign representatives and relevant authorities of friendly nations countries will continue to actively and closely cooperate to jointly eliminate these crimes in order to protect the honour and dignity of humanity,” he said.

Sar Kheng also led a meeting on August 26 to implement an action plan against all forms of human trafficking, labour exploitation and sex trafficking.

The meeting was attended by ministry of interior officials, senior officials from several ministries, provincial governors and officials from the NCCT.

Kong Sophorn, Kandal provincial governor said that human trafficking is a transnational crime committed by groups with clear structures and strong networks.

He said the government called for active participation from the public and the international community to combat these crimes in order to protect human dignity.