The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and several partner organisations held a February 15 workshop to share details of a circular which described procedures for dealing with the victims of human trafficking.

The event, held in Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville, was presided over by Vong Soth, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

Ministry spokesman Touch Channy said the ministry and its partners – Australia Aid and Rattankak International – selected Preah Sihanouk province as it was a frequent target for anti-trafficking operations.

He explained that the circular – dated December 26, 2022 – outlined guidelines for managing victims of trafficking or exploitation, whether in government centres, NGOs or the community.

“The goal of the workshop was to introduce the correct forms and procedures for dealing with victims, and managing their return to society. There are several distinct stages of procedure, and each has its own paperwork that must be completed,” he said.

“In short, we provided guidance on these procedures for those in work with or provide support services to the victims of trafficking or exploitation. The first stage is pre-integration, and the second is integration. Third stage requires that we monitor their progress, while offering support. Finally, there is a specific process that must be completed to close each case,” he added.

Heak Himolly, deputy provincial governor of Preah Sihanouk, said she was not able to attend the workshop, but she said provincial authorities worked very hard to assist the victims of trafficking crimes.

“We always help them as much as we can. It is important to us that no one is left behind,” she said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said that selecting this province for the workshop was an excellent move by authorities. As far as he was aware, trafficking cases were significantly higher there than anywhere else in the Kingdom.

“Once the guidelines have been widely shared, it is very important that there are monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure that that they are effective. This is an important point, and I hope it was considered,” he added.

“Implementing these procedures transparently and consistently is crucial. In the past, we have seen very different outcomes from trafficking cases in Preah Sihanouk province. I believe additional assistance may be necessary for victims,” he continued.

He said clear procedures were likely to contribute to reducing trafficking crimes.