In Koh Kong, 400 Protest Human Trafficking

More than 400 people marched through Koh Kong town Sunday to raise awareness about child trafficking and sexual exploitation, according to local rights group Licadho.

The 4-km march took place in Koh Kong because it has become noted as a center for the trafficking of Cambodian women and children into Thailand, said Vann Sophath, deputy director of communications and advocacy at Licadho, which organized the event.

“We want to disseminate information on child trafficking and sexual exploitation in Koh Kong be­cause Koh Kong is the province at the border of Cambodia and Thai­land,” Vann Sophath said.

Local government officials, volunteers from child protection groups and NGO staffers marched through the provincial capital’s red light district, and handed out pamphlets about ending child trafficking to owners of brothels and kar­a­oke shops, Vann Sophath said.

Provincial Governor Yuth Phou­thang said local authorities have been adhering to the government’s policy to combat human trafficking and child exploitation.

“I set up a [radio] program airing every Friday for one hour focusing on educating people about human trafficking and child exploitation,” he said Sunday.

Authorities have been more ef­fec­tively cracking down on human trafficking since the passage of a new anti-human trafficking law in 2007, according to Ith Rady, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Justice.

“After the human trafficking law was adopted, our authorities acted more effectively,” he said, adding that officials have been trying to educate people about tricks used by offenders.

Approximately 50 cases of child traf­ficking and sexual exploitation in Cambodia were reported to Li­cad­ho between January 2007 and Oct­ober 2008, Vann Sophath said. Fifteen of those 50 cases reportedly took place in Koh Kong province.

He added that in Licadho’s opinion, anti-trafficking policy has not been handled well and the judicial system is particularly flawed, be­cause only one of 50 cases re­ported to Licadho has gone to trial so far.

Ith Rady said that several cases have not gone to trial because the suspects have not been found. “I think in some cases police cannot arrest offenders because [the of­fenders] escaped to live abroad.”.

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