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Cablegate: Cambodia Launches New National Committee to Combat

VZCZCXRO4788
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0907/01 3480233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140233Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1444
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000907

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL, G/TIP
STATE PASS TO USAID ASIA BUREAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KTIP CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA LAUNCHES NEW NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO COMBAT
HUMAN TRAFFICKING

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 744
B. PHNOM PENH 709

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) On December 9, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng presided over the official
launch of Cambodia's new National Committee to Suppress Human
Trafficking, Smuggling, and Labor and Sexual Exploitation.
Created on September 25 with a Sub-Decree signed by Prime
Minister Hun Sen, the National Committee merges the former
National Task Force (headquartered at the Ministry of Women's
Affairs) with the High-Level Working Group (headed by the DPM
at the Ministry of Interior) into a single anti-TIP policy
structure. The 18-member Committee is chaired by the DPM and
has as its four vice-chairs the Ministers of Justice, Labor,
Social Affairs, and Women's Affairs.

2. (SBU) Ambassador Rodley spoke at the launch, emphasizing
the transnational nature of human trafficking and the fact
that governments across the world, including the United
States, had to work hard to combat the trafficking scourge.
The Ambassador applauded positive steps taken by the RGC this
year. such as the formation of the National Committee and the
launch of the new National Minimum Standards on Victim
Protection (Ref A), and reiterated USG commitment to helping
Cambodia combat trafficking through programs and policy
engagement. The Ambassador also called for stricter
implementation of Cambodia's 2008 counter-trafficking law,
highlighting the new National Committee's stated goal of
eradicating impunity by TIP ringleaders and offenders. The
Ambassador praised the show of political will by the RGC thus
far, and encouraged the crowd of government officials present
to keep tackling the problem head on.

3. (SBU) DPM Sar Kheng took on board the Ambassador's
remarks and, in extemporaneous remarks added to the formal
tasks he outlined for the National Commmitee in his speech,
he reiterated the RGC's commitment to strengthen all aspects
of anti-TIP acitivities. This joint government activity
conducted in such a cohesive manner would show to any
would-be perpetrators that "the net is very big and very
strong, from top to bottom," he said. On Cambodia's tier
ranking, Sar Kheng said that the previous Tier 3 ranking
showed the RGC was not committed. With the current "two and
one half" ranking, the government was committed but it was
"not very strong," he remarked. The formation of the
National Committee was a key step in showing a strong
government commitment to combating trafficking, he concluded.
Sar Kheng also remarked on the formation of a new study
group comprised of officials from the Ministries of Interior
and Justice, which would examine why many TIP arrest cases
did not proceed to prosecutions and convictions (Ref B). He
made clear the government's position that more convictions
against TIP crimes were needed.

4. (SBU) The Sub-Decree states that the National Committee
Secretariat, which leads day-to-day anti-TIP policy efforts,
is financially supported by the national budget, with a
separate budgetary package within the annual budget of the
Ministry of Interior. It also establishes six working groups
under the Secretariat to coordinate government response to
the different aspects of human trafficking, including law
enforcement, judicial affairs, protection and rehabilitation,
prevention, international cooperation, and children's
affairs. The terms of reference for the working groups lays
out their structure (septel). The remaining 13 members of
the NC are the Ministers of Tourism, Health, and Education;
the Commissioner General of the National Police; the
Commander of the Military Police; and secretaries of state
from the ministries of Interior, Defense, Foreign Affairs,
Information, Economy and Finance, Culture, and Post and
Telecommunications.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The DPM's presence and comments at the
launch ceremony reinforced the commitment of the RGC to
combating human trafficking. The Sub-Decree and terms of
reference for the working groups names the officials that sit
on each group, and officially tasks them with participation
in the policy structure, creating accountability within the
RGC for a coordinated response. The National Committee has
lost no time in consolidating and continuing anti-TIP work;
work began immediately upon the Prime Minister's signature on
September 25, and many of the working groups have met two or
three times already to craft strategic plans and task lists.
The National Committee Secretariat has assembled an Advisory
Group to inform and guide the Secretariat, composed of donor
officials and NGO representatives. Embassy officials have

PHNOM PENH 00000907 002 OF 002


accepted seats on the Advisory Group and will participate in
quarterly Advisory Group meetings in addition to regular
engagement with RGC officials. A number of the NGO
participants in the Advisory Group are also State Department
or USAID grantees, reflecting the strong partnership between
the RGC and USG in combating trafficking. END COMMENT.
RODLEY

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