Ethnic Minority Girl Held Against Will in Phnom Penh, Mother Claims

The mother of an 18-year-old ethnic Tampuon minority girl complained to the human rights group Adhoc yesterday that her daughter had been taken to Phnom Penh for vocational training but was now missing, according to human rights workers and the mother.

Moul Plea, who has asked for Adhoc’s help to locate her missing daughter Let Douch, said that four days after her daughter went missing in early May from her home in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district she was told that she had been taken to Phnom Penh for training ahead of a promised job in Malaysia.

Ms Plea identified the man who allegedly brought her daughter to the capital as Ta Keng, 45, and alleged that he had offered her 300,000 riel, or about $72, in return for not seeking her daughter’s return.

“At that time, he tried to force me to accept money, but I refused,” said Ms Plea, adding that she then filed a complaint with Kaleng commune police alleging that Mr Keng and his daughter Keng Bun, 18, had trafficked her daughter.

Ms Plea said she received several phone calls in May from her daughter who claimed that Mr Keng had delivered her to a labor firm, Champa Men Power Group, to pay a $500 debt he owed the company.

The labor company has prevented her daughter from returning home as Mr Keng owes the firm $500, Ms Plea claimed.

Contacted by telephone yesterday, Mr Keng acknowledged that he had borrowed the money but dismissed Ms Plea’s accusations, saying that the girl was not being held against her will and that “she had asked her mother for permission to come with me to Phnom Penh to work.”

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said that Adhoc plans to send a letter of intervention to provincial prosecutors today urging both that the alleged victim be returned home and that the two alleged traffickers be prosecuted.

Ms Plea said that though she has paid commune police a total of $100 in order for them to investigate since filing the complaint in May, police had taken no action.

Chea Nel, commune police chief, confirmed yesterday that Ms Plea’ complaint had been filed but denied that police had taken money from the woman. Mr Nel said that the case had been forwarded in late May to district police. District police officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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