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16 Aug 2022

Luke Hunt, The Diplomat (USA)

Cambodia: Over 2,000 Taiwanese reportedly stranded as rights groups decry human trafficking and forced labour crisis

"Taiwan Frets for ‘Thousands’ Trafficked Into Cambodia" 16 August 2-22

Cambodia’s troubles with human trafficking have escalated significantly after investigations by Taiwanese authorities, who fear thousands of Taiwanese have been trafficked into the Southeast Asian country and forced to work for criminal syndicates.

Amid harrowing reports from trafficked victims, the National Police Agency (NPA) conducted an investigation based on flight records, revealing that about 1,000 Taiwanese travelled to Cambodia per month for much of this year but on average only 100 returned home.

Based on that, police and politicians say at least 2,000 Taiwanese are still stranded in Cambodia against their will, but this number could be as high as 5,000 because of blind spots in the data. That is significantly more than the previous estimates that hundreds of Asians had been reportedly tricked and then sold here.

An inter-ministerial task force has been set up to deal with trafficked Taiwanese and there have already been press conferences with victims who escaped. A similar pattern emerged in Malaysia in April when its ambassador in Phnom Penh wrote to local police seeking help.

In March, a group of 35 organizations told the Cambodian government to urgently address “a crisis of forced labor, slavery and torture” after warnings were issued by five Asian embassies; Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, and China. Malaysia followed soon after. [...]