U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Cambodia

Cambodia (Tier 3)

Cambodia is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. A significant number of Cambodian women and children are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Cambodian men are primarily trafficked to Thailand for labor exploitation in the construction and agricultural sectors, particularly the fishing industry. Cambodian children are 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 prostitution.

The Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Cambodia is placed on Tier 3 for its lack of progress in combating severe forms of trafficking, particularly its failure to convict traffickers and public officials involved in trafficking. During the last year, the Cambodian Government failed to take effective action to ensure that those responsible for the raid on an NGO shelter for trafficking victims were held accountable and brought to justice. The Cambodian Government's failure to act calls into question Cambodia's commitment to combating human trafficking. Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts remained hampered by systemic corruption and an ineffectual judicial system. The government must take aggressive measures to prosecute and convict traffickers and public officials found to be involved in trafficking, and confront the corruption in its judicial system that hampers prosecutions of traffickers.


During the reporting period, the Cambodian Government made no significant progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Prosecutions of suspected traffickers dropped significantly, despite a small increase in the number of arrests. The Cambodian Government's response to an attack on an NGO shelter for trafficking victims and removal of suspected trafficking victims was unsatisfactory. Moreover, the government did not adequately investigate or hold accountable those who were responsible for the attack. Cambodia does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law but it used existing statutes to prosecute traffickers. Penalties for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation carry sentences of up to 20 years' imprisonment. The National Assembly has not yet acted on a draft anti-trafficking bill that would provide law enforcement and judicial officials with more powers to arrest and prosecute traffickers. In 2004, the Cambodian police reported 165 arrests but only 24 successful prosecutions. Despite the number of arrests, there were few actual convictions of traffickers. There was no available information on the length of sentences for trafficking-related cases. Systemic corruption and a weak judiciary remain the most serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers. Senior Cambodian Government officials and their family members are reportedly involved in or profit from trafficking activities but there were no trafficking-related prosecutions of corrupt officials.


The Cambodian Government continued to refer victims to NGOs and international organizations with victim protection programs. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation operated two temporary shelters for victims, but the government relied primarily on foreign and domestic NGOs to provide shelter to victims. The Cambodian Government also supported an NGO that places trafficking victims in long-term shelters. Victims in Cambodia are not treated as criminals and have the right to seek legal action against traffickers, but seldom do.


The government continued its efforts to raise awareness of trafficking by cooperating with numerous NGOs and international organizations. The Ministry of Women's Affairs (MWA) continued to carry out information campaigns, including grassroots meetings in key provinces. The MWA worked with IOM to expand a nationwide anti-trafficking information and advocacy campaign that included district-level meetings with government officials and the distribution of educational materials and videos. During the reporting period, the Anti-Trafficking Police Unit conducted an outreach program to warn high school students of the dangers of trafficking. The Ministry of Tourism produced pamphlets and advertisements warning tourists of the penalties for engaging in sex with minors, and conducted workshops for hospitality staff on how to identify and intervene in cases of trafficking or sexual exploitation of children.


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