10/27/2022, 18.01
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Human trafficking in Cambodia depends on complicity in high places

by Steve Suwannarat

Various observers have highlighted the problem in Cambodia, ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the region. Prime Minister Hun Sen makes 20 August a day dedicated to the fight against this scourge. In Cambodia, hundreds of foreign nationals from Southeast Asian countries have been freed in recent months.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) – Cambodia is the point of origin, transit, and destination of human trafficking networks, which cannot operate without corruption and complicity in high places, this according to several observers.

The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International ranks the Southeast Asian country 157th out of 180, third to last in the Asia-Pacific region after Afghanistan and North Korea.

In view of the situation, action should be taken “so Cambodia will not become the heaven of crime, money laundering and human trafficking,” said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Sixth National Interfaith Forum against Human Trafficking held last month in Phnom Penh.

As a token of its commitment, during the forum, the government announced that next year, 20 August will be a day dedicated to the fight against the scourge with every level of government involved.

It is well known that human trafficking in Cambodia affects thousands of people from different countries attracted by job offers, but once in the country, they are exploited by various organised crime groups.

Since the start of this year, many Malaysian nationals have been rescued, as were 241 Indonesians who were sent home in August.

That same month, 41 Cambodian, Chinese and Thai nationals were arrested in connection with 368 human trafficking cases. So far this year, some 629 Taiwanese were caught up in human trafficking nets.

In July, a documentary on Al Jazeera gave victims the opportunity to tell their tales of deception, detention, torture, and even death threats.

Like the Qatar-based international Arabic-language broadcaster, other major international media have investigated the problem over the past few months, exposing online scams and gambling houses run by Cambodia-based gangs headed by both Cambodians and foreigners.

Gambling is legal in Cambodia and the number of casinos is increasing, which are essential for money laundering and the development of new forms of slavery.

Online scams often involve people enticed by offers of well-paid jobs in services and tourism, who end up deprived of their freedom once they are in the country. Most of them come from countries members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), chaired this year by Cambodia.

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