PM Warns of Strict Penalties for Spreading Fake Scamming Narrative

The right photo shows Chen Neng Chuan (left) and Lu Tsu Hsien (right) who faked being kidnapped on Feb. 13-14 . Photo_ Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Manet has warned that scammers who make up stories about human trafficking or torture in Cambodia will face legal actions, when their narrative happens not to be true. Penalties can go up to a life-long interdiction from entering Cambodia or jail sentences.

Strict law enforcement for such cases is needed to guarantee a sense of security and bury fake news, Manet said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Chak Angrae Kraom-Prek Pra bridge crossing the Bassac River on Feb. 19. 

“The news about kidnapping and abuse cases in Cambodia scare international tourists, especially Chinese, from visiting the country because they believe such stories are real. This severely affects the tourism and business sectors in the country as a whole,” Manet added. 

The prime minister’s warning followed the recent arrest of two Taiwanese content creators who had staged being kidnapped and tortured in Preah Sihanouk province on Feb. 13-14. The two content creators were reported to have prepared their shoot since mid-January. 

Their videos showed fake human trafficking, torture, sexual abuse and the selling of human organs. The two were sentenced to two years in prison and fined four million riel (approximately $1,000) for incitement, according to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court prosecutor on Feb. 15. 

The two convicted have argued that they needed to go back to Taïwan to look after their ill mothers, Manet said. But he rejected their request to show Cambodia won’t let go of such cases, and set an example for future content creators.

The prime minister also mentioned another so-called staged case, often referred to as “Blood Slave” which also happened in Preah Sihanouk province, in 2022. Among four Chinese nationals who had been reportedly trafficked to Cambodia to forcibly work in a scam compound, one claimed he had been captured a drained out of his blood.

According to Sihanoukville’s provincial court, the three other Chinese made a fake medical report for blood loss to avoid prosecution from Cambodia’s Immigration Office, as they had entered the country illegally. 

The four men were sentenced to two years in prison and fined four million riels for incitement and false declaration in March 2022. 

Strict judgment to restore reputation 

Provincial Governor Kuoch Chamroeun said on Feb. 15 that such stories damage the reputation of the country in the long run, scaring both national and international tourists. 

Regardless of previous cases, the governor guaranteed once again the province remains safe.

Prime Minister Hun Manet hopes that tourism will fully bounce back thanks to spreading awareness that Cambodia is a safe country to travel to.

“Tourists who have a good experience in Cambodia will spread the word to their relatives and more people will come here,” he said. 

“Meanwhile the news about the punishment for those scammers will change the perception of their viewers on the country as well,” the prime minister added. 

Hun Manet also said that he would consider extending the jail penalty over two years if such a sentence shows not to be effective enough.

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