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Minister Lashes Out at Wasted Anti-Trafficking Efforts

The US lists Cambodia among those countries that need to do more to combat trafficking—which generally means Cambodians being trafficked abroad.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Thursday upbraided government agencies and non-government groups for failing to cooperate against human trafficking, saying the lack of a clear strategy was adding to the

Sar Kheng, whose ministry oversees a special anti-trafficking unit, said the lack of cohesion meant a a waste of resources. He spoke at an anti-trafficking workshop in Phnom Penh to about 80 participants from the government and NGOs, including provincial authorities.

“In the past, activity has been conducted at a distance, with no clear goals or strategies and no compromises, which has caused overlaps in work,” he said.

Government and non-government units need to combine their resources and expertise with law enforcement officials and other to better curb human trafficking, he said.

Last year, the government interceded in 160 cases of human trafficking, smuggling or labor exploitation, according to official figures. Those cases involved nearly 700 victims of trafficking, including nearly 300 juveniles.

Chou Bun Eng, who chairs a government committee to suppress trafficking, said the government is working with a plan that improves awareness of trafficking and provides legal support and alternative

“We think that the three-point strategy can help Cambodians be free from more danger,” she said.

However, Lim Mony, head of the women’s unit for the rights group Adhoc, said that while she supports the strategy in principle, it is not moving forward in reality.

“If there is no will in the implementation of this strategy, with strength and fairness, it’s still useless and won’t provide a positive result for our society,” she said.