A total of 176 suspects have been arrested in relation to various human trafficking offenses and crimes. A total of 300 complaints have been responded to as the country is subject to international scrutiny with embassies and organizations joining in the call and urging the country to better address human trafficking.
Cambodia Continues to Crack Down on Human Trafficking
As previously reported, Cambodia seeks to stem the tide of human trafficking and part of this means enforcing stricter measures. That is why Prime Minister Hun Sen confirmed that the crackdown that began this year has resulted in the arrested of dozens of suspects. The police operations were conducted over the period between August 18 and September 18, and they focus on exclusively addressing illegal gambling in places such as Sihanoukville, a hotbed for such offenses, which are linked to human trafficking.
Local reporting by The Khmer Times, a newspaper, has found out that in 95% of all complaints, there was a legitimate reason to do so. On Sunday, the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration further confirmed that close to 500 foreign workers had been rescued from Sihanoukville Bei’s commune in the course of seven days, making it one of the biggest numbers on record.
Cambodia has experienced a decline in its tourism numbers as businesses and travelers both shunned the country, warned by national governments not to visit. Meanwhile, Sihanoukville has continued to be a hotbed for organized crime through illegal online gambling and the lure of foreign workers who ended up being kept as slaves on-site and forced to commit crimes.
There have been a number of cases where workers managed to escape from their employers and made media headlines, casting Cambodia in a worse light. One of those is the case of 40 Vietnamese workers who swam across back to Vietnam after being kept in inhumane conditions at Sihanoukville.
Fighting the Issue Will Take a While
Cambodia stopped issuing licenses for online casinos back in 2019 but failed to conduct the appropriate enforcement measures which resulted in the proliferation of crime. At first, local authorities were nonchalant about the threat that Sihanoukville’s seedy underbelly posed, but they are now aware that the country’s well-being and international reputation depend solely on how swiftly this rampant problem is dealt away with.
Prime minister Sen has already issued an order on Monday that any officials that are found to be assisting or neglecting their responsibilities in relation to tackling human trafficking will be removed from their post and possibly face legal consequences.