Your Royal Highnesses;
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Representatives of Foreign Embassies;
Representatives of National and International Organizations;
Today it is my great pleasure and honor to join you all at this Conference on Human Trafficking, which is jointly organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation with the Embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Thailand to Cambodia to amplify our cooperation in combating all forms of human trafficking. I am also most grateful and welcome you all, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Representatives of government’s ministries/institutions, foreign embassies, national and international organizations and NGOs for joining us today at this conference.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self, I highly appreciate the Embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Thailand to Cambodia for taking this initiative to organize the Conference on Human Trafficking. I also sincerely praise all the national, international and non-governmental organizations, line ministries/institutions, public officials at all levels and in all sectors whoever have cooperated in implementing the duties of eradicating all kinds of human trafficking. I am convinced that this conference will provide additional synergy to activities and results that we have previously accomplished and it surely reflects the Royal Government’s commitment and the supports gained from donors, national and international organizations and NGOs in combating human trafficking, especially the trafficking in women and children.
Human trafficking is the most serious form of human rights violation. This has been emerged in many forms since the past centuries. Nowadays, this issue is being faced within national, regional or international contexts. Efforts in combating human trafficking, particularly the trafficking in women and children, are being continually reinforced within national and international frameworks. Nevertheless, we observe the criminal activities involving human trafficking are being planned one step ahead of the authorities’ actions. Also, the globalization, greater economic disparities within and among countries, increase in domestic and cross-border crimes, increase in migration, domestic and international conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, overwhelmingly increase in poor population due to lack of opportunities and access to education and employment, and the exploitation on women and children, all these factors have attributed to the cause of increase of both legal and illegal immigration, which include domestic migration, immigration across borders, temporary, permanent and semi-permanent residency. These residents are vulnerable to finding jobs in cities and in foreign countries. This goes in hand with an increase in number of criminals who operate all kinds of exploitation, especially during the period and the situation where vulnerable groups start immigration process; from starting, transit to destination points. Wherever and whenever exploitation takes place, immigration and migration favor human trafficking.
In this context, Cambodia has previously faced migration and emigration issues in great scale when people migrated to refuge from war and internal conflicts for more than two decades. In 1993, thousands of Cambodians returned from refugees camps along Cambodian and Thai border where they refuge. From then, they jumble up their living with others in rural areas and cities. Indeed, domestic migration has increased dramatically, especially from rural areas to cities since crops plantations are affected by natural disasters such as floods, drought and poverty. For this reason, human trafficking in Cambodia emerges in several forms such as sex and labor exploitation. It is observed that these kinds of exploitation emerge mostly in urban areas and provinces along Cambodia’s borders, particularly Battam Bang, Banteay Meanchey, Koh Kong, Sihanouk Ville, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. On the other hand, criminals are taking Cambodia as a place for dispatching, receiving and transiting human trafficking to other countries, especially trafficking in women and children.
In response to solving the above issues, the Royal Government has set out guidelines and measures such as the Law on Combating Human Trafficking and Exploitation, Circulars on Major Duties Preventing Sexual Offences, Exploitation or Trafficking in Woman and Children and Prostitution and Preventing Violence on Woman, Instructive circulars on Enhancing Anti-trafficking in Women and Children Movement, Prakas on implementing measures of the 5 years plan for combating child sex trafficking and exploitation as well as adopting several international conventions related to human trafficking. In abiding all the above laws, regulations and international conventions, the Royal Government has exerted its utmost efforts in implementing these rules by coordinating with national/international organizations and NGOs in order to enhance anti-human trafficking. At the same time, main mechanisms and institutions at national and local levels such as Cambodian National Council for Children and Department of Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile protection have been established and are active in the implementation of their respective roles and duties.
Moreover, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation with support from UNICEF, IOM have rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated 8,128 victims from human trafficking across border; majority are women and children. Simultaneously, we have trained them on socio-economic issues by basing on rights and gender. Moreover, in order to prevent child trafficking and sex in tourism and with support from World Vision and other organizations, we have established Council for safety in tourism, which is in the process of active implementation.
In this spirit, the Royal Government has work out strict plan related to human trafficking by opening up 876 investigations, 674 cracking down operations, in which we have arrested 728 suspects and rescued 1,179 victims; 607 of them are juvenile. The Royal Government has disseminated and promoted the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Kingdom of Thailand on bilateral cooperation for eradicating woman and child trafficking and assisting victims from trafficking. This implementation shall be carried all the way through the management of provinces, concerned offices in provinces along Cambodia-Thailand borders. In parallel with combating program, the Royal Government has paid most attention in rehabilitating labor ability, training and integrating around 2,018 victims back to the community.
On behalf of the Royal Government, I am very pleased to see this United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) that has actively coordinated in establishing the memorandum of understanding on cooperation on anti-human trafficking in Greater Mekong Sub-region, which was signed on the 29th of October 2004 in Yangon, Union of Myanmar.
Indeed, human trafficking is not only a crime of serious human rights violation, it affects seriously on socio-economic development process. For this reason, within the political agenda and Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government in the third mandate of National Assembly, we have identified one of the strategic angles focusing on social protection by preparing a social safety net system and strategy of implementing population policy. These angles have strategic angle of enhancing good governance as core angle and back-bone. The Royal Government will increase interventions in social sector by enhancing cooperation with national/international organizations in order to improve employment opportunities. This will in turn help to reduce vulnerability of the poor, especially poor women and children as well as their families. The Royal Government has issued all necessary measures in order to prevent child oppression and child labor exploitation, child prostitution, woman and child trafficking as well as immoral acts on children in community. This task must go in hand with education, enhanced law enforcement, youth rehabilitation and professional training. With these, they will become good citizen in our society. Furthermore, because there are some gaps and lacuna in existing law on human trafficking, weak dissemination system and low level of law awareness, some laws and regulations are not being strictly implemented. This allows some criminals to escape and avoid justice hearings. Some victims, public service providers and authorities are still unaware of the importance of evidence gathering to charge law breakers during justice hearings. They sometime do not coordinate with competent authorities, which is the cause of allowing law breakers to avoid charges.
In addition, the Royal Government has set out policies and is implementing action plans in order to increase agricultural productivity through implementation of attractive market policy and increased physical infrastructure investment, enhanced education and research in agriculture sector, modern technology, and agro-industry development. This is to increase employment for farmers and reduce poverty of the people. The Royal Government in the third mandate has established the Ministry of Employment and Labor in order to assist our people in finding jobs through implementation of various professional training programs.
With above mentioned fundamental strategies and drawbacks and in order to enhance effective implementation of laws and regulations related to anti-human trafficking in Cambodia, I would like to make some recommendations for this Conference to consider as follows:
- All line ministries, especially the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior must pay attention on examining and proposing the completion of gaps and lacuna in laws and regulations in order to facilitate anti-human trafficking, especially woman and child trafficking.
- We must continue to enhance law dissemination system and promote comprehensive implementation in population sphere. Measures must be strict and consistent existing laws in order to crack down criminals in human trafficking and to appropriately protect victims from trafficking. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation must accelerate the preparation process of the law on Inter-country Child Adoption and law on Juvenile Justice.
- Strategic and greater program of social safety net must be established to assist the poor and vulnerable groups. Research and geographical data base system must be established to assist poor community of the poor by focusing on professional training, education and job creation. We must continue to boost the implementation of anti-human trafficking measures, especially woman and child trafficking, which have already been incorporated in CMDGs and NPRS.
- We must expand our international cooperation in combating all kinds of human trafficking through implementation of laws and international conventions related to human trafficking and child labor that Cambodia has adopted. We must disseminate information related to these conventions and boost the implementation of bilateral and multilateral memorandum of understandings in regional and international frameworks, especially the memorandum of understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Kingdom of Thailand on bilateral cooperation for eradicating woman and child trafficking and assisting victims from trafficking, which was signed in 2003 and the memorandum of understanding on cooperation on anti-human trafficking in Greater Mekong Sub-region, which was signed by five countries on the 29th of October 2004 in Yangon, Union of Myanmar.
- We must amplify more efforts in implementing repatriation and integration programs for victims from trafficking and integration monitoring programs in order to provide supporting services and prevent novel trafficking. More efforts must also be put in implementing the memorandum of understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Kingdom of Thailand on bilateral cooperation in labor use through preparing employment safety system and enhancing implementation of the law on labor improvement of work conditions.
- We must expand partnership with donors and international organizations in order to obtain support both in technical and financial terms to facilitate anti-human trafficking campaign, especially woman and child trafficking.
Taking this opportunity, I once again deeply thank all Excellencies, Ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Kingdom of Thailand to Cambodia, who have provided us with the technical support and cooperation. I also warmly appreciate the national and international community and donors that have actively contributed their efforts through technical, material and budget supports to the Royal Government in order to transparently and successfully implement the program on anti-human trafficking.
Finally, I wish you all, Your Royal highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Representatives of the ministries/institutions, foreign embassies, national and international organizations and NGOs for joining us today at this Conference on Human Trafficking, the five gems of Buddhist blessings.