7 Suspected Human Traffickers To Stand Trial

Seven suspected human traffickers are scheduled to go on trial at Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for their alleged contribution to a flesh-trade operation run out of the Svay Pak brothel district, Municipal Judge Tan Senarong said Tuesday.

Police arrested the seven suspects and six others on March 29 in one of the largest brothel raids in years. Thirty-seven trafficking victims were rescued, and at least eight brothels were shut down by Ministry of Interior officials.

The US-based NGO Interna­t­ion­al Justice Mission, which provided information about the ring to the ministry, will offer videotaped evidence against four of the seven suspects, said Sharon Cohn, director of IJM’s anti-trafficking operation.

An IJM investigator also will be available for testimony at the re­quest of the court, Cohn said.

Al­though Cambodia has no anti-trafficking law, Cohn said at least four of the seven suspects could be tried on charges of prostituting girls aged 14 years and younger.

“We are eager to see the court administer justice in cases where individuals are offering children for commercial exploitation. Where the child is 14 and young­er, the court can sentence the defendant to up to 15 years incarceration, and we believe this serves as a useful deterrent to those who would exploit the children of Cambodia,” she said.

Prosecutor Siem Sok Aun will try the case, said Tan Senarong, who will preside over the hearing.


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