Five human trafficking suspects were arrested and 12 women rescued on Tuesday after the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking police and Battambang provincial police raided a guesthouse in Battambang town, police said Wednesday.
The raid marks the third operation between the Ministry of Interior and the women’s protection NGO Afesip since a highly public incident in December when more than 80 women were taken from an Afesip shelter and police failed to prosecute suspects accused of pimping the women at the Chai Hour II Hotel in Phnom Penh.
Three of the women taken from the Battambang brothel were under 18 years old, Un Sokunthea, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking department, said Wednesday.
Police arrested suspected brothel owner Chon Toeur, 34, employees Chom Baraing, 22, Khum Raksmey, 22, Men Dara, 22, and landlord Tith, 50, at the Sun Samay guesthouse, said Chan Nareth, deputy chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking department.
“I raided the guesthouse after we received warrants from the provincial court which charged that the guesthouse has been running as a brothel parlor with crowds of sex workers,” Chan Nareth said.
“They would never admit they were under 18. But two of them looked for sure like they were under 18. They looked between 13 and 16,” said Romboul Seang, Afesip deputy country director.
Afesip accompanied police on the raid and escorted the women back to its shelter in Phnom Penh where they are receiving medical treatment before being interviewed, Romboul Seang said.
Afesip filed a complaint to the Ministry of Interior on May 6 after its investigators found that the women were not allowed to leave the brothel.
Chan Nareth said it was the first raid in his province this year.