Cablegate: 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report for Cambodia

DE RUEHPF #0350/01 0640115
O 050115Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) The following is Embassy Phnom Penh's contribution towards
the preparation of the 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report for
Cambodia, covering the period March 2006 - March 2007. Responses
follow the questions outlined in reftel. The entire report is
classified sensitive but unclassified (SBU).

Overview of the Country's Activities, Statistics
--------------------------------------------- ---

1A. (SBU) Is the country a country of origin, transit or
destination for international trafficked men, women, or children?
Provide, where possible, numbers or estimates for each group; how
they were trafficked, to where and for what purposes. Does the
trafficking occur within the country's borders? Does it occur
within territory outside of the government's control (e.g. in a
civil war situation)? Are any estimates or reliable numbers
available as to the extent or magnitude of the problem? What is
(are) the source(s) of available information on trafficking in
persons or what plans are in place (if any) to undertake
documentation of trafficking? How reliable are the numbers and
these sources? Are certain groups of persons more at risk of being
trafficked (e.g. women and children, boys versus girls, certain
ethnic groups, refugees, etc.)?

Cambodia is a source, destination, and transit country for
trafficking in persons, including men, women and children. The
majority of Cambodian trafficking victims are trafficked for labor
purposes, due to Cambodia's relative poverty and poor economic
conditions compared with its immediate neighbors; Cambodian women
and girls are also trafficked for sexual exploitation. Cambodians
are trafficked primarily within the Mekong sub-region, particularly
to Thailand and Malaysia. Trafficking also occurs within Cambodia's
borders, from rural areas to Phnom Penh and other secondary cities
within the country.

In Cambodia, commercial sex work goes on in guesthouses, karaoke
clubs, massage shops, beer gardens, restaurants and nightclubs that
provide direct and indirect sex workers. Barbershops, noodle shops,
and other commercial establishments may also function as venues for
commercial sex operations either on the premises or "on delivery"
for clients. Both TIP victims and voluntary sex workers are
intermingled at such venues. Many ethnic Vietnamese sex workers in
voluntary sex work are or were originally trafficked to Cambodia
through debt bondage. Debt bondage is also a factor in the
recruitment of Cambodian trafficking victims, who are convinced that
they are accepting legitimate restaurant, factory, or other work
opportunities in Phnom Penh or other cities and then forced into sex

There are no firm estimates or reliable numbers available as to the
extent or magnitude of the overall trafficking problem. Two surveys
have attempted to measure the commercial sex industry in the
country: a 1997 report by the Commission on Human Rights and a 2003
study by a former Fulbright researcher, Thomas Steinfatt. The 1997
Commission on Human Rights for the National Assembly included a
country-wide survey of brothels, and estimated that there were
14,725 brothel workers in Cambodia (ignoring other venues) and that
81 percent of workers were Cambodian and 18 percent Vietnamese. The
study did not attempt to differentiate between voluntary sex workers
and trafficking victims.

Steinfatt's 2003 statistical study on the number of prostitutes and
sex trafficking victims in Cambodia estimated 18,256 sex workers
(all venues) in Cambodia, of which 65.6 percent were Cambodian and
32.8 percent Vietnamese. The Steinfatt study estimated that there
were 2,000 sex trafficking victims in Cambodia, with 80.4 percent of
the sex trafficking victims being ethnic Vietnamese. Steinfatt's
trafficking estimates have been disputed by some who believe the
actual victim numbers to be higher, although no separate data exist
that accurately quantify sex trafficking victims.

Limited trafficking statistics are available from RGC border
authorities involved in the repatriation of Cambodians from
neighboring countries. Cambodian authorities, in cooperation with
international organizations such as UNICEF and IOM, try to
distinguish between illegal migrants and trafficking victims,
particularly children, and have some statistical information.
Within Cambodia, NGOs that provide services to victims referred by
police, judicial, and social service officials often are another
source of limited statistical information based on their respective

In 2006, the NGO Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) assisted 146

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victims of trafficking, 67 of whom were victims of cross border
trafficking. The NGO AFESIP assisted 67 victims of trafficking
among the 310 residents admitted to its shelters during the year.
During the 11-month period between March 2006 and January 2007, the
Ministry of Interior reported the arrests of 44 offenders for
domestic trafficking and 21 for cross-border trafficking, and the
rescues of 69 and 51 victims of cross-border and domestic
trafficking, respectively. The Ministry of Social Affairs reported
the total number of victims of trafficking during the same period to
be 360, of whom 171 were victims of domestic trafficking and 189 of
cross-border trafficking. Of the 360 total, 177 victims were
trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 183 for labor purposes.
During 2006, IOM identified 131 victims of trafficking, out of 757
Cambodian returnees from Vietnam, and 252 victims of trafficking,
mostly children, from Thailand.

There are no studies that suggest minority groups are more
susceptible to trafficking. Some provinces, by virtue of their
proximity to neighboring Thailand or Vietnam, are also source areas
for trafficking victims. In a 2004 survey, PACT-Cambodia found a
correlation between residential origins of trafficking victims and
communities along major highways.

Thailand is the major destination country for trafficked Cambodians,
but there are no reliable numbers on how many persons are trafficked
to Thailand each year. Cambodian men are trafficked to work in the
Thai fish, construction and agricultural industries; women and young
girls are trafficked for factory and domestic work, but are also
subject to sexual exploitation in the Thai commercial sex industry.

Children are not prevented from crossing the Thai border with
strangers or alone, and Cambodians can buy a border pass to cross
the border without needing to show any identification.
Poipet/Aranyaprathet is the primary Cambodia-Thai border post.
Children mainly from Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces in
Cambodia's northwestern region continue to be trafficked to Thailand
to beg, sell candy or flowers, and shine shoes. IOM and UNICEF have
contact with nearly all children repatriated from Thailand at the
Poipet border crossing, and select out the trafficking victims for
special care through IOM's Poipet Transit Center, which is staffed
jointly by IOM and Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth
(MOSAVY) staff. According to UNICEF, in 2006 there were 198
unaccompanied children deported from Thailand to Cambodia, some of
whom were trafficking victims. According to IOM/MOSAVY, Thai
authorities repatriated 86 women and children who were identified as
TIP victims and deported another 165 alleged TIP victims during

Cambodian women continue to be trafficked via
Thailand to Malaysia for commercial sexual exploitation, and others
are trafficked directly to Malaysia for exploitation as agricultural
laborers, domestic help, and sex workers.

According to IOM's 2006 statistics, children in two districts of
Svay Rieng Province continue to be trafficked to Ho Chi Minh City in
Vietnam for begging. Cambodian traffickers contract with the
children's parents, with monthly payments ranging from 100,000 riels
(USD 25) to 150,000 riels (USD 37) per child. IOM explained that
Cambodian facilitators take three to four children at a time across
the porous, unmonitored border to Vietnam. A single trafficker may
coordinate several facilitators. Border controls are minimal and
the children cross to Vietnam freely, according to IOM. Cambodian
traffickers personally supervise the children in Vietnam, and
reportedly have few problems with police raids. According to
MOSAVY, 757 people -- mostly child beggars - were returned by
Vietnamese authorities and reintegrated in 2006.

Vietnamese women and children, many in debt bondage, continue to be
trafficked from Ang Giang, Contho, Soc Tzeug and other provinces in
Vietnam to Cambodia for commercial sex work primarily in Phnom Penh.
Information from AFESIP, CWCC, and UNICEF indicates that Vietnamese
women and girls are trafficked through Cambodia by organized
Vietnamese criminal gangs to onward destinations in Thailand and

During the summer of 2006, Chinese women in debt bondage were
discovered engaging in commercial sex work in Cambodia. Many of
these women are working to repay debt incurred in their home

A moratorium since 2002 on international adoption by some western
countries, including the United States, has largely curbed reports
of trafficking of infants for foreign adoption. Concerns
surrounding this type of trafficking led the RGC to redraft the

PHNOM PENH 00000350 003 OF 007

country's adoption legislation, and a new law is currently being
developed which has recently been reviewed by the Council of
Ministers and returned to MOSAVY. The Cambodian government is
working with international organizations and other donors to ensure
that international adoptions are conducted properly in the future to
diminish the trafficking of infants for profit.

Changes in Trafficking Patterns; Political Will
--------------------------------------------- --

1B. Please provide a general overview of the trafficking situation
in the country and any changes since the last TIP report (e.g.
changes in direction). Also briefly explain the political will to
address trafficking in persons. Other items to address may include:
What kind of conditions are the victims trafficked into? Which
populations are targeted by the traffickers? Who are the
traffickers? What methods are used to approach victims? (Are they
offered lucrative jobs, sold by their families, approached by
friends of friends, etc.?) What methods are used to move the
victims (e.g., are false documents being used?)

Cambodia has made important strides in combating trafficking over
the past years. The Ministry of Interior has implemented a national
anti-TIP plan. The RGC is moving ahead with drafting a modern
anti-trafficking law and has concluded MOUs on combating trafficking
with its two biggest neighbors. In 2005, the Cambodian National
Police botched a raid, compensated with a successful raid and then
jailing of four individuals associated with the Chhay Hour II hotel.
In fall of 2006, the hotel reopened under a new name after the
owner and manager were released by the Appeals Court. In 2007,
Cambodian authorities raided the hotel for the third time, detaining
four suspects, including the two original detainees. Additionally,
the Prime Minister publicly criticized the Appeals Court and
demanded an investigation into the court's decision.

The Cambodian government at its most senior levels supports greater
emphasis on the fight against trafficking in persons. Prime
Minister Hun Sen has spoken out on numerous occasions against
trafficking. On March 5, 2006, he called for more concerted action
from the government and NGOs to fight human trafficking, and warned
against Cambodia being labeled as a sex tourism destination. While
senior officials recognize that measures undertaken to date are
insufficient to stem TIP within and out of Cambodia, the RGC
recognizes that the problem must be addressed comprehensively and in
accordance with internationally recognized norms regarding
prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims, and public
awareness campaigns and other programs to prevent people from
falling victim to TIP. The RGC also recognizes that the problem is
a regional one, and involves the cooperation of neighboring
countries. The RGC has cooperated with U.S.-supported and other
NGOs operating in Cambodia on TIP.

On February 6, 2007, the Cambodian government, represented by five
concerned ministries, signed an agreement on the guidelines for
implementation and cooperation between relevant government
institutions and victims support agencies in cases of human
trafficking. This agreement defines the roles and responsibilities
of agencies working with trafficking, and marks a positive
development in inter-ministerial cooperation.

The lack of statistical data impedes attempts to characterize
changes in the trafficking climate from one year to the next. As
long as the economies of Cambodia's neighbors continue to expand,
Cambodian labor remains cheap and jobs inside the country are scare,
Cambodians will continue to migrate out for labor purposes. It is
the belief of some NGOs that cross-border trafficking in both
directions across the Cambodia-Vietnam border has decreased in 2006;
such a conclusion can be reached by noting IOM's decrease in the
number of returnees from Vietnam as well as fewer Vietnamese victims
in shelters in Cambodia (Note: details provided below.); increased
economic opportunity in the border region along with increased NGO
efforts to combat trafficking could be responsible for this
reduction. However, whether trafficking within Cambodia has
decreased cannot be ascertained. NGOs and observers note that
trafficking activity in the beach town of Sihanoukville is growing;
increased tourism and weak police and judicial authorities are two
reasons; one notable international NGO called cooperation with
government authorities in Sihanoukville the worst in Cambodia.

CWCC claims its 2006 statistics indicate a decline in human
trafficking. In 2006, the NGO received only 117 cases, compared to
191 in 2005 and 282 in 2004. The director opined that legal labor
migration to Thailand and Malaysia has contributed to the decrease
in trafficking.

PHNOM PENH 00000350 004 OF 007

AFESIP's statistics also revealed that the number of trafficking
victims has slightly decreased, from 92 in 2005 to 67 in 2006. The
number of traffickers arrested also decreased from 27 to 21. The
NGO noted that the number of trafficking victims from Vietnam
decreased from 127 in 2005 to 63 in 2006.

IOM reported a similar downward trend for trafficking to Vietnam.
In 2006, there were 131 victims, compared to 100 victims for the
last six months of 2005. The number of returnees from Vietnam in
general is also decreasing, 757 in 2006, compared to 1,121 in 2005.

The notorious Svay Pak brothel area that was closed after an
extended 2004 crackdown by Anti-TIP police and IJM, is reported to
be in operation again, although in a more concealed manner. At
present, no additional information is available about the Svay Pak
area. A study conducted in 2005 by AidTous and the Coalition to
Address Sexual Exploitation of Children in Cambodia (COSECAM) to
revaluate the impact of closing Svay Pak on children found that the
closure did not stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Many of these children were scattered to other brothels in Phnom
Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, and are living in worse
conditions in underground operations.

There continued to be incidents of Cambodian men and women
being trafficked to Malaysia via Thailand and scattered reports of
individuals trafficked to farther destinations. In 2006, as in
previous years, there were also reports of Cambodian women going to
work in Malaysia through legal channels, but ending up in
exploitative situations. The Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA)
continues to have serious concerns about the protection of Cambodian
women working in domestic positions in Malaysia and the potential
for abuse or coercion and trafficking into the sex industry. The
MOWA has advocated the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to
ensure the well-being of domestic workers after arrival in Malaysia.

In 2004, UNICEF indicated the beginnings of a change in TIP
patterns, with evidence suggesting a rising number (if not yet
significant compared to the main routes) of trafficking
cases to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Recently, there were reports of
Cambodian women who went to Taiwan through marriage but are now left
in legal limbo for political and diplomatic reasons. It is reported
that there are about 5,000 Cambodians in Taiwan, some of whom were
trafficked for sexual exploitation. The Kamrieng border crossing
point in Battambang (connecting to Trat in Thailand) has became
another trafficking/smuggling route in recent years.

Research conducted by Friends International and UNIAP on child
begging issues in Thailand found that the majority of Cambodian
child beggars traveled to Bangkok with their mothers or other family
members and that most beggars had a degree of control over their
day-to-day lives. In contrast to previous assumptions, the research
found that the majority of Cambodian child beggars in Bangkok did
not experience abusive practices or trafficking. The issue is more
related to migration of vulnerable migrants rather than trafficking.
However, the research found that almost 20% of children questioned
came with a facilitator or non-blood relative. Most of the children
who came with their mother said they were happy with the situation,
while half of those who came with a facilitator said they were

Due to poverty, lack of jobs, family problems and unequal access to
educational opportunities, women and children, especially those in
rural areas where 80 percent of the population resides, are the most
vulnerable segment of society to sex trafficking. These victims are
particularly susceptible to the lure of employment, often via the
intercession of relatives, friends, or unknown persons, to pay off
personal or family debts incurred by factors such as drought or the
serious illness of a family member. NGOs have identified certain
risk factors that increase the probability of a girl being lured
into prostitution: an older sister, relative, or friend already
involved in the commercial sex industry; the parents of the girl
have divorced or separated; one or both of the parents are dead and
the girl is living with relatives or friends; one or both parents
are drug addicts, alcoholics, or gamblers; the family is desperately
poor; the girl has little or no education; and the girl is of the
appropriate age for the sex industry. NGOs report that domestic
violence and rape are often precursors to trafficking, as girls who
are raped are culturally stigmatized and left with little hope of
having a normal life.

Traffickers of Cambodian women and children for sex can be
known or distant acquaintances who promise work in Phnom
Penh, or relatives, boyfriends or husbands that take the
women or underage girls and sell them to a brothel.

PHNOM PENH 00000350 005 OF 007

Asian men are often prepared to pay a premium to have sex with
virgins, with one NGO reporting that clients will pay as much as USD
1,000 for three days with a virgin. In one study, AideTous found
that 55 percent of interviewed prostitutes had sex for the first
time with a foreign client, and two-thirds were between the ages of
13-18 when they lost their virginity to a client.

When Cambodians are moved abroad, they often are brought through the
porous borders with Thailand or Vietnam without documentation. Some
women are reportedly trafficked to Thailand for sex by boat from the
Cambodian province of Koh Kong. In cases of human trafficking to
Malaysia, women are reportedly entering the country with valid
Cambodian passports, with allegations of complicity on the part of
Thai and Malay border and immigration officials. Attempts to
lobby Malaysia to grant legal rights to foreign domestic workers
have been unsuccessful, although the Ministry of Women's Affairs
continues discussions with its counterpart in Malaysia on this

When victims are trafficked out of Cambodia, NGOs claim that
trafficking networks are involved. The Vietnamese, Thai and
Chinese-Malays are alleged to have regional networks that traffic
drugs, guns, women and children to regional markets such as Thailand
and Malaysia.

Government Resource Limitations, Corruption

1C. What are the limitations of the government's ability to address
this problem in practice? For example, is funding for police or
other institutions inadequate? Is overall corruption a problem?
Does the government lack the resources to aid victims?

The Cambodian government is severely limited in its ability
to effectively combat trafficking. In general, Cambodian government
institutions remain very weak as a result of 25 years of civil war
and genocide. The lack of resources is acute; training and funding
for law enforcement and courts are wholly inadequate; corruption is
a major problem; and the overall level of human resources - trained
and competent people - is still greatly affected by the legacy of
decades of civil war. Government resources for victim assistance
are virtually non-existent and must be augmented by assistance from
international organizations and foreign and domestic NGOs. The
government has also been slow in defining custody issues pertaining
to victims and witnesses taken from brothels, as well as the legal
authority of NGOs in the process. In February 2007, the five
responsible government ministries signed an agreement with NGOs
providing victims assistance that established guidelines for
cooperation on these issues.

Observers agree that law enforcement and judicial prosecution
represent government weaknesses in anti-trafficking efforts. While
some NGOs report good cooperation with government authorities on TIP
cases in Phnom Penh, there are complaints regarding police officials
at the provincial levels. In September 2006, an American citizen
charged with pedophilia was released on bail from jail in
Sihanoukville under questionable circumstances.

Donor countries have continued to press the government on
anti-corruption efforts and the passage of an anti-corruption law
that is consistent with international standards. The draft law
remains inadequate and the government has missed multiple deadlines
for implementation. Donors have also pushed for the establishment
of an independent anti-corruption commission. On August 26, 2006,
the government established an Anti-Corruption Body to combat
corruption but it remains largely inactive.

The Supreme Council of Magistracy has the power to
appoint and remove judges, but does not use this power
except in rare situations, and there is evidence that disciplinary
actions are often politically motivated. The SCM also does not have
investigative resources to respond to allegations of corruption.
The MOJ rotates judicial personnel every four years in the hope that
the movements will lessen opportunities for corruption.

Government anti-TIP Monitoring Efforts

1D. To what extent does the government systematically monitor its
anti-trafficking efforts (on all fronts - prosecution, prevention
and victim protection) and periodically make available, publicly or
privately and directly or through regional/international
organizations, its assessments of these anti-trafficking efforts?

PHNOM PENH 00000350 006 OF 007

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth
Rehabilitation (MOSAVY) has a database to keep track of repatriated
victims and the Ministry of Interior has a database to track police
intelligence, investigations, and arrests of sex crime offenders.
The Ministry of Justice, with assistance from Asia Regional
Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking (ARCPPT), started
collecting information in late 2004 for a database of trafficking
court cases, which was expected to be available in late 2005. The
database is still not operational in 2007, and UNICEF has taken over
the project. Information included in all of these databases is
often not public and is not consolidated in one location. The
Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) under MOSAVY plans a
consolidated database to include secondary data from other
government databases as well as NGOs. CNCC is in the process of
developing this database, but a timeline for its operation is not
yet available. At present, the Cambodian government does not issue
assessments of its efforts to combat human trafficking.

Government Acknowledgment of TIP

2A. Does the government acknowledge that trafficking is a problem in
that country? If not, why not?

The Cambodian government openly acknowledges that trafficking is a
serious problem, particularly the sex trade involving women and
children. As noted earlier, the Prime Minister in March 2006 spoke
out against TIP and called for greater government efforts to combat
the problem.

In December 2006 at the launch of a new U.S.-funded Asia Foundation
counter trafficking initiative, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Interior Sar Kheng committed the government to working with civil
society to combating TIP.

In February 2007, the Prime Minister urged the Supreme Council of
the Magistrate to investigate the Appeals Court decision that
released the people convicted of trafficking at Chhay Hour II. He
also urged the Ministry of Justice to review the penal code and the
draft anti-TIP law to ensure that penalties for human trafficking
were severe enough for the heinous nature of the crime. In
addition, he also urged the government to work to ensure that the
rights of Cambodians working in foreign countries be respected.

Government Agency Involvement in anti-TIP Efforts
--------------------------------------------- ----

2B. Which government agencies are involved in anti-trafficking
efforts and which agency, if any, has the lead?

Several ministries and agencies in the Cambodian government have
responsibility for combating trafficking in persons, including: the
Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation; the
Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Interior
(which oversees the National Police); the Ministry of Women's
Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Tourism; the
Ministry of Information; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
International Cooperation; and the inter-ministerial Cambodian
National Council for Children, which has a Sub-Commission on
Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children. Since the summer
of 2006, the Ministry of Women's Affairs is the lead ministry on
human trafficking issues.

Government-run anti-TIP Information/Education Campaigns
--------------------------------------------- ----------

2C. Are there or have there been government-run anti-trafficking
information or education campaigns? If so,
briefly describe the campaign(s), including their objectives and
effectiveness. Do these campaigns target potential trafficking
victims and/or the demand for trafficking (e.g. "clients" of
prostitutes or beneficiaries of forced labor).

Working with NGOs, the Cambodian government implemented a national
campaign to raise public awareness regarding the dangers of human
trafficking through posters, television and radio campaigns, and the
use of traditional Cambodian theater. The Ministry of Women's
Affairs, with USAID funding and assistance from International
Organization (IOM) for Migration, conducted a nationwide information
campaign to increase awareness about trafficking. IOM's impact
assessment report showed that the campaign has made its way to the
people -- people understand more about trafficking and know what to
do when the problem arises. The project ended in September 2006,
but the Ministry continues to fund its radio campaign focused on
women's empowerment and raising awareness of trafficking.

PHNOM PENH 00000350 007 OF 007

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth
Rehabilitation continued to work closely with UNICEF and local NGOs
to set up community-based networks aimed at conducting early
intervention programs in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.
Community volunteers are recruited to help identify children at risk
and bring their cases to the commune level for local protection.
More difficult cases are forwarded to the district level.

The Ministry of Interior's anti-TIP police continued to conduct its
education campaigns to school children about the risks of
trafficking and their rights under the law. During 2006, the police
conducted 126 information campaigns for approximately 20,000
students in Siem Reap and 15 campaigns for more than 3000 students
in Phnom Penh.

The Ministry of Tourism (MOT), in collaboration with World Vision,
has produced pamphlets and advertisements for tourist brochures and
maps that warn tourists of the penalties for engaging in child sex.
The MOT also provided workshops to hospitality industry owners and
staff on how to identify and intervene in cases of trafficking or
sexual exploitation of children. Some of the more active
organizations involved in general public awareness campaigns
regarding trafficking have been UNICEF, IOM, and the Women's Media
Center. The Ministry of Tourism also supported the Child Program
which builds a network of people to protect children at risk of
trafficking and sexual abuse in the main tourist centers of Phnom
Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Riep.

CWCC ran television spots targeting the demand side of trafficking
by addressing male behavior toward prostitutes and educating male
clients to respect the rights of beer promotion girls. UNICEF also
funded television spots educating the public about the danger of
trafficking and associated penalties.


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