From August 18 last year to April 17, the authorities responded to 850 human trafficking complaints, rescuing more than 2,000 foreigners, according to a senior official.
Khieu Sopheak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) rescued 2,132 people, with more than 2,000 of them repatriated to their homelands.
“Most of the requests for assistance were received from the victims’ families, with some made directly by trafficked individuals,” he noted.
Sopheak also acknowledged that more than 100 complaints had resulted in no action.
He said that in the course of the operations, 129 suspects were arrested and five companies were shut down. Several more were temporarily suspended pending investigation, he added, noting that 44 requests for assistance in locating 177 people remained under investigation.
“In the past, there were very few complaints, but the cases grew until we were receiving five or 10 a day. Happily, I am glad to say the figures are now declining. We now intend to broaden our activities to include money-laundering,” he said.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said on April 18 that while there appeared to be less cases reported than previously, he believed the problem persisted.
“Tackling all forms of human trafficking requires Cambodia’s continued commitment,” he said, while acknowledging that the Kingdom had made serous attempts to step up enforcement.
But Sam Ath was of the view that awaiting formal complaints is not the most effective way to eliminate the problem, and that more public engagement is needed.
“This will only be achieved if it is easy to share information, rather than being intimidated into doing so,” he said.
Sopheak, however, stressed that the authorities encourage individuals to share information.
“Information can be shared in person, by phone, or through social media channels,” he said.