China Support Sought Against Trafficking Kingpins

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng meets Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian at the National Assembly on Sept. 27. Photo: Sar Kheng Facebook

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia has asked China to continue its support for investigating ringleaders of transnational crimes.

The request came as the US Ambassador raised concerns over the chaos involved in human trafficking in coastal Sihanouk province.

Cambodia has pledged to continue its efforts to investigate and crack down on criminals in the country.

“Cambodia is also a country that suffers from the exploitation of several shortcomings by criminals who commit crimes,” Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said during a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian at the National Assembly on Sept. 27.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Ministry of Interior are highly committed to cooperating with the competent authorities of China as well as all in the region,” Kheng wrote on his Facebook page.

Kheng, also the Minister of Interior, thanked China for its special cooperation in preventing and cracking down on such crimes.

He said that to speed up operations, Cambodia had established key mechanisms, including a Gambling Suppression Task Force, the Investigation and Research Task Force, and the Monitoring Group on Foreign Workers in Cambodia.

Wentian said the Chinese Embassy had continued to promote the dissemination of this information to the media and the public.

On Aug. 26, Sar Kheng announced that Cambodia had begun to step up its campaign against all types of human trafficking, forced labor and the sex trade. Sar Kheng also urged the public and stakeholders to provide information to detect and prevent these crimes.

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 30, 87 cases were handled, with 865 people saying they were victims. Seventeen cases involving a total of 60 suspects were referred to the courts.

In July, seven rescue operations were conducted during which 25 victims of six nationalities were freed and 23 suspects of four nationalities were captured in the provinces of Oddar Meanchey, Preah Sihanouk, Pursat and Svay Rieng, Kheng said on Aug. 26.

Many of the foreign victims were trafficked by masterminds in their home countries, helped by associates in Cambodia who arranged for them to enter the country illegally after promising them high-paying jobs, he said.

Human Tragedy and Development

Sihanouk province has seen a Chinese influx of investment and casinos. Located on a peninsula extending into the Gulf of Thailand and around a deep-water port, it is convenient for any waterway activity.

US Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy said that while in Sihanoukville, he stopped to reflect on many human tragedies that had occurred in this region, including unsafe boats, human trafficking, fraud hotspots, and an excess of casinos.

On Sept. 22, a boat carrying 41 Chinese capsized off Sihanoukville province. Of these, 30 were rescued and three are confirmed dead. The rest are missing.

“There’s a real need for broad action to address the storm clouds here,” Murphy tweeted on Sept. 25.

In response, Deputy Governor of Preah Sihanouk province Long Dimanche said the province is being transformed into a gateway city and major economic hub. Challenges were always a part of development.

In his Facebook post on Sept. 27, Dimanche said any passenger boat or cruise that does not adhere to safety standards is barred from operations, while anyone who broke the rules would be held legally responsible.

“The authority regards this issue with a significant amount of gravity, and we do not take any violation of such safety requirement lightly,” Dimanche wrote.

The deputy governor said that concerning human trafficking and online scams, the authority had established inter-agency mechanisms, including the "Operation Leading Committee," through which authorities have taken effective measures in collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure the timely prevention and suppression of such illegal activities.

“As the authority continues to grapple with these challenges, we seek good and well-coordinated cooperation with all our international friends to address and end these issues systematically,” he said,

From September 18 to 22, Preah Sihanouk authorities raided three companies suspected of conducting scam operations and illegal online activities. The raids took place in the Sihanoukville neighborhoods of Galaxy World Casino, Jing Chhay Technology, and Pao Yong Technology.

During the operations, 1,480 foreigners of 11 nationalities were discovered, 935 of whom were classed as illegal immigrants because they lacked work licenses. The people arrested were from China, Laos, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Russia.

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