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16 Aug 2022


Cambodia: Business & Human Rights expert warns against risk of 'being left out of global supply chain' if trafficking issue left unaddressed

"Cambodia holds back Vietnam and Thailand in trafficking prevention" 16 August 2022

[...] As corporate interest in environmental, social and governance issues grows, developed countries have been monitoring human rights violations. In the U.S., a law that allows for import injunctions on products made with forced labor has been in effect since 2016. The European Union is expected to announce a similar ban this year.

"Business and human rights issues are recognized as a common challenge among developed countries," said Susumu Tanaka, senior economist and leader of the business and human rights unit of the Japan External Trade Organization. As long as cases of human trafficking continue to exist, "those countries will have to consider the possibility of being left out of the global supply chain." [...]

While Thai authorities can often identify victims and track perpetrators through bank accounts, internet data and phone records, enforcement often falls to their poorly equipped Cambodian counterparts. Immigration authorities in Sihanoukville, where 15-year-old Namtip was detained, said her case was delayed because they could not verify her identity.

Victims who spoke with Nikkei Asia said they witnessed patrols on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border accepting bribes from traffickers for safe passage. Syndicate bosses would brag to victims about how much they paid the police for each head, the victims said.

Corruption also helps explain the situation in Sihanoukville, which has a special economic zone, in which around 100 casinos and numerous property developments are financed and operated by Chinese businessmen. Victims could easily find where they were held on a map -- large compounds with high walls and barbed wire, containing dormitories and casinos. These are often in or near urban centers, as they require high-speed internet to conduct financial scams and traffic more people. [...]