Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cambodia Is Ranked in the Second Tier for Human Trafficking in the 2009 US Report

photo:Chuck Kuhn
Phnom Penh: The 2009 report of the US Department of State shows that this year Cambodia stays in the Second Tier [of three] in the assessment on human trafficking. Though, in general the Cambodian government has improved in responding to trafficking, last year the efforts to fight human trafficking declined, especially in the prosecution of human trafficking crimes.

“The report of US Department of State gives some details that Cambodia is a transit country and is targeted for the trafficking of men, women, and children who are victimized by trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labor. Children and women are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia to exploit their labor and for forced prostitution. Some Cambodian men who migrate to Thailand by themselves and to Malaysia to seek jobs are forced to do hard work as fishermen on fishing boats, as construction workers, and as agro-industrial workers. Cambodian women and men sent back to Cambodia recount that they were forced to work hard there, after they had left Cambodia to work there through Cambodian worker recruiting companies. Cambodian children were trafficked to Thailand and Vietnam to do begging and to sell candy or flowers, or to shine shoes. Sometimes, parents sell their children to work as servants or to beg, or they sold them to brothels for sexual exploitation, or to force them to work as house servants. In Cambodia children are trafficked to become beggars. They become scavengers or work at salt fields, at brick and tiles kilns, and at quarries.

The Cambodian government has not fully met the minimum standards of trafficking elimination. Although the government is making remarkable efforts to fight trafficking, the government has not really proven that there are improvements in the prosecution and punishment of human trafficking perpetrators as well as officials who had colluded with those perpetrators, and it has not shown how it is protecting human trafficking victims. Therefore, Cambodia is ranked second in the observation list. To improve this rank, Cambodia should do more to bring human traffickers and colluding officials to be prosecuted and punished.

“Based on the adoption of a law to protect victims of human trafficking in 2000, which was later amended, the US parliament requires the US Department of Sate to send annual reports to the US parliament. These reports on 164 countries are the most comprehensive reports worldwide about the efforts of various governments to fight human trafficking. The reports aim at encouraging activities and stepping up partnership arrangements worldwide to fight this new form of slavery. Countries defined as having many human trafficking victims will be included in any of the three following ranks. Countries evaluated as meeting “the minimum standard to eliminate serous human trafficking” as stated in the law will be put in the first tier. Countries assessed of not meeting the minimum standard but making significant efforts will be included in the second tier. Countries assessed as not meeting the standard and not making any significant efforts will be placed in the third tier.

“This report continues that the law even requires the US Department of State to deliver a special watch list for countries that have been assessed again temporarily for the report by 1 February every year. In addition to the assessments of various countries with improving ranks from third to second to fist, this special watch list even creates a fourth rank. This ranks includes countries in the third tier defined as (1) not making any efforts a year ago and (2) being able to avoid the third rank because of commitments to conduct reforms against human trafficking in the future or (3) having fairly many victims of human trafficking or having fairly increasing rates of human trafficking victims.

“The US Embassy waits to cooperate more with the Royal Government of Cambodia next years in order to achieve success to bring Cambodia to the first tier at last. It should be noted that in 2008, Cambodia was in the second tier also.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6679-6680, 18-19.6.2009
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