U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cambodia

Cambodia (Tier 2)

Cambodia is a source, destination, and transit country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodian men, women and children are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for forced labor and prostitution. Cambodian children are also trafficked to Vietnam and Thailand to work as street beggars. Cambodia is a transit and destination point for women from Vietnam who are trafficked for forced prostitution. There are no reliable estimates available as to the extent or magnitude of the problem.

The Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite considerable resource constraints. Government officials recognize that trafficking is a major problem. In 2003, Cambodian authorities stepped up arrests and prosecutions of traffickers. Through collaboration with foreign and domestic NGOs and international organizations, Cambodia continued its support for prevention and protection programs. However, Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts continue to be hampered by endemic corruption and an ineffectual judicial system. Cambodian government officials and their family members are reportedly involved in or profit from trafficking activities. Government action should concentrate on enhancing its capacity to tackle trafficking at all levels and removing officials, law enforcement personnel, and judicial members involved in or profiting from trafficking.


Cambodia does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, although it has used existing statutes to prosecute traffickers. The Council of Ministers is reviewing a draft anti-trafficking bill that would provide law enforcement and judicial officials with more powers to arrest and prosecute traffickers. According to available data, the Cambodian police in 2003 investigated over 400 trafficking-related cases. The Ministry of Interior claims that 153 individuals were arrested for trafficking and trafficking-related offenses. Of these, 142 individuals are currently serving sentences and 11 are awaiting trial. Sentences ranged from 5 to 20 years imprisonment. Victims were awarded modest financial compensation by the court. Corruption and a weak judiciary remain the most serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers. Cambodian authorities, particularly the police anti-trafficking unit, cooperated with the U.S. Government in arresting and turning over three U.S. citizens for prosecution for the extra-territorial crimes of child sex tourism, contained in the PROTECT Act. One of these arrests became the first U.S. conviction under the PROTECT Act. Cambodia has also cooperated with other foreign governments seeking to prosecute their nationals for child sexual exploitation.


Although hampered by severe resource constraints, the Cambodian government continued its efforts to provide assistance to trafficking victims. The Cambodian government operates two temporary shelters for victims and attempts to place victims with NGOs for long-term sheltering. The Cambodian government relies primarily on foreign and domestic NGOs to provide protective services to victims. Victims in Cambodia are not treated as criminals and have the right to seek legal action against traffickers. In 2003, Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand to regularize the repatriation of Cambodian citizens/trafficking victims. Cambodia has proposed to enter into similar MOUs with Vietnam and Malaysia. Law enforcement officials have received training to sensitize them to trafficking and victim protection issues.


Throughout the reporting period the government cooperated with numerous NGOs and international organizations on prevention, including the strengthening of community-based networks to inform potential victims of the risks of trafficking. The Cambodian government, through the Ministry of Women's and Veterans Affairs, continued to carry out information campaigns, including grassroots meetings in key provinces. It also worked with NGOs to produce workshops, pamphlets, and videos informing the public about the dangers of sex tourism, including child sex tourism.


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