For a second straight year, the US State Department on Tuesday maintained Cambodia’s position in the “Tier 2 Watch List” in its annual global ranking of efforts to combat human trafficking.
Since being promoted to the Tier 2 Watch List last year, Cambodia’s anti-trafficking efforts have not passed muster, the US Embassy said in a statement.
“While the Cambodian government took nascent steps to address trafficking-related corruption, the government must expand these efforts to prosecute and convict officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking,” the embassy said.
The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that it was making efforts to improve.
The 7th annual ranking classes 164 countries and territories into four separate categories depending on an assessment of the strength of their efforts to fight trafficking, defined as coercion or sale into bonded labor or sexual servitude.
Tuesday’s report said Cambodia “is making significant efforts.” However the report did little to describe such efforts and was mostly critical, citing the failure to pass draft legislation on trafficking, “minimal progress” in law enforcement efforts, “limited assistance” to victims and only “modest efforts” at prevention.
“We don’t want to stay at the bottom of the class,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said, adding that the government is implementing the law and trying to improve.
“I think in the future, it will be better,” he said
CNN reported Wednesday that senior US State Department officials had argued over whether downgrading India, which shares the “Watch List” with Cambodia and 30 other countries, to Tier 3 would affect US relations with the country.
A State Department official acknowledged Tuesday that bilateral relations could affect rankings.
US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Cambodia’s ranking fit the facts on the ground.
“Tier 2 Watch List is the appropriate ranking for Cambodia based on its efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the past year,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“There was broad consensus within the Embassy and the State Department on this determination,” he added.