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Police Chief Told to Strengthen Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Cambodian National Police Chief Gen. Hok Lundy met with US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and other State Department officials Tuesday, where the general was told "to strengthen significantly [Cambodia's] efforts to combat trafficking in persons, which remains a serious problem in Cambodia," the State Department said Tuesday.

Cambodia has been closely collaborating with the US in counterterrorism and counter-narcotics efforts, but needed "to address its poor human rights record," the State Department said in a statement.

Officials "also urged that Cambodia make much greater efforts to prosecute and convict public officials, including police officers, who are involved in trafficking, and that Commissioner General Lundy make the police more responsive to trafficking issues," according to the statement. "They also noted the need for the government of Cambodia to address its poor human rights record and corruption."

Hok Lundy met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration Monday, on a trip that brought sharp rebukes from human rights officials. Hok Lundy, a close adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, has been implicated in serious crimes, including human trafficking, extrajudicial killings and orchestrating the 1997 grenade attack on opposition demonstrators.

John Miller, a professor at George Washington University who until recently was the State Department's anti-trafficking czar, told VOA Khmer Tuesday he had been surprised to learn of Hok Lundy's visit.

"He's not the sort of person I would want to give a visa to," said Miller, who visited Cambodia as part of his State Department duties and was close to human trafficking investigations there. "To admit him, the FBI sure must be expecting something significant, but I don't know what it is."

Hok Lundy's deputy, Lt. Gen. Sok Phal, confirmed the meetings, but would not elaborate Tuesday. He said that before returning to Cambodia the delegation was traveling to California, to prepare for a case against arrested members of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, who staged an attack in Phnom Penh in 2000.

The US considers the CFF a terrorist organization, and the FBI has been working in collaboration with Cambodia to arrest its members. Chhun Yasith, a California accountant who claimed to be the CFF's president, was arrested in June 2005 on charges stemming from the Phnom Penh attack.