Interior Ministry Plans Own Women’s Shelter

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.


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