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24 Jun 2019

Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Cambodia: 2019 US Report on Trafficking in Persons shows a lack of measures taken by Cambodian govt. to combat human trafficking

"U.S. sees Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts floundering", 20 June 2019

… Cambodia is not doing enough to combat human trafficking, the United States said …, leaving the Asian nation at risk of economic sanctions unless it takes firmer action.

Corruption impedes law enforcement, prosecutions and provision of services to victims, the influential Trafficking In Persons report said, downgrading Cambodia from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List, one step above the lowest rank of Tier 3.

“Against a backdrop of insufficient government oversight ... authorities did not investigate credible reports of official complicity with unscrupulous business owners who subjected thousands ... to human trafficking,” it said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan questioned the purpose of the ranking system and referred questions about corruption to the Interior Ministry’s counter-trafficking agency.

“We are also suffering in hearing that corruption and brokers have strong connection to destroy our efforts,” said the agency’s vice chairwoman Chou Bun Eng… More than 260,000 of Cambodia’s 16 million people are trapped in modern slavery, according to the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation, often in farms, fisheries and construction, many of them children…

An influx of Chinese investment in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, where more than 50 casinos have sprung up, is causing concern to Maggie Eno, co-director of M’Lop Tapang, a child protection charity.

“We are seeing 13-year-old girls dropping out of school to work in casinos (where there is a) very, very high risk of exploitation and trafficking,” she said…