Police arrested one man and two women at the scandal-wracked Chai Hour II Hotel on Wednesday afternoon on accusations of human trafficking, Chhay Sinarith, director of the Interior Ministry’s Information Department said.
Chhay Sinarith identified the man as Sam Leng, 56, the hotel’s manager, and the women as Khun Navy and Sam Srey, both aged 21.
“We arrested the Chai Hour II manager because his hotel was [involved in] human trafficking,” Chhay Sinarith said.
Khun Navy and Sam Srey were not employed at the hotel, but had brought a 16-year-old girl to sell to customers there for sex, he said.
“She is underage,” Chhay Sinarith said, adding that the young women had intended to sell the girl’s virginity for $1,000. The victim will be sent to a center run by anti-trafficking NGO Afesip, he added.
The Chai Hour II was subject to an anti-trafficking raid on Dec 7, when 83 women and girls were removed and taken to an Afesip women’s shelter. The following day, Dec 8, the shelter was attacked and the females taken away.
In the wake of the scandal, the US downgraded Cambodia to the bottom tier on its anti-trafficking global watchdog list in June.
Subsequent US sanctions could be imposed on Oct 1, but the US has asked the government to take several actions to avoid this, including the arrest of 10 human traffickers and the conviction of three. A reinvestigation of the Chai Hour II was also requested.
US Embassy spokesman John Daigle said he had no specific information on the arrests, but added: “We support the Cambodian government’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons.”
The decision on whether to apply sanctions “is still under consideration in Washington, and we’re just waiting on what that decision will be,” Daigle added.
Mu Sochua, former minister of women’s affairs and now an opposition party member, said she was pleased that a senior hotel staffer had been arrested.
“It’s a bit late but it’s not too late,” she said.
“There’s a much bigger fish than this,” involved with the hotel, she said. “I would like further investigation.”