The Interior Ministry is hoping to build a temporary shelter inside the ministry compound for women and children rescued from brothels, Un Sokunthea, director of the ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, said Wednesday.
Trafficking victims could be kept at the shelter, which would be run by the department, until they are called to testify in court against alleged traffickers, Un Sokunthea said.
“We need some donors to help in this matter. The project will cost about $20,000 to $30,000,” she said.
Un Sokunthea said it was too early to say whether anti-trafficking NGOs would be given access to the shelter.
Supporters of the project say it would be more secure and make the government more accountable for trafficking victims in the wake of the Dec 8 raid on Afesip’s women’s shelter.
But some rights workers questioned whether trafficking victims would be safer in the hands of the police.
In January, Phnom Penh’s deputy chief prosecutor called for the suspension of Municipal Anti-Trafficking Police Chief Meng Say, following an accusation of rape against him.
In March, Touch Ngem, deputy chief of the ministry’s anti-trafficking department, was suspended from work after he was accused of extorting money from brothel owners.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said Wednesday that she disapproved of the idea.
“We have a number of cases over the years when people have been detained at the Ministry of Interior, and no one has been given access, and on release they have shown signs of mistreatment and torture,” Naly Pilorge said.
“The Ministry of Interior has no history of being able to take care of women and children rescued from brothels,” she added.