Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries need to do more to curb human trafficking, a leading human rights advocate says.
“The leaders of Asean have not opened their hearts to help the people in the region,” Lim Mony, a senior investigator for the rights group Adhoc, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday. “They just think about their own individual countries.”
Extreme poverty in parts of Cambodia has forced many to seek illegal work in the region, but that can lead to slave-like conditions in numerous industries, from farming to commercial fishing, and from housekeeping to the sex trade.
Yet Asean was formed for the countries in the region to help each other with such issues, Lim Mony said. Trafficking in the region should be “abolished,” she said.
At an Asean ministerial meeting in Malaysia this week, representatives from each of the 10 Asean nations adopted a declaration against transnational crimes, including trafficking. As Asean heads toward greater economic integration, the differences in income of individual countries will continue to drive trafficking, Lim Mony said.
In Cambodia, “the wages are small and the goods are expensive,” he said. “People are poor, they don’t want to receive information, they don’t have the ability to receive information, and they can only think about their daily work to support their lives,” she said.
When the free flow of goods and services becomes part of Asean, he said, “Cambodian people will go to work abroad like water breaking the dam.”