Officials Accused of Brothel Extortion Suspended

Chea Vuth, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, said that he and Touch Ngem, Kompong Speu provincial deputy police chief, were suspended from work on Wednesday, accused of extorting and bribing brothel owners.

Complaints against the two officers were made following a Kom­pong Speu police raid on four bro­thels in September 2004 in which 41 sex workers were rescued, Chea Vuth said.

He added that he was suspended from work but that his rank has not been withdrawn.

The Ministry of Interior order­ed him to appear for questioning on Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Chea Vuth denied that he was involved in any extortion or bri­bery of the brothel owners.

“I am not involved with extortion because all the girls and bro­thel owners were arrested and immediately sent to the Min­istry of Interior without transit through my office. So how can I ex­tort money from them?” he asked.

Touch Ngem could not be reach­ed for comment Wednes­day.

Un Sokunthea, director of the anti-human trafficking department for the Ministry of Interior, declined to comment.

Local human rights groups ex­pressed concern that bribery of government officials has been hampering efforts to combat hu­man trafficking.

 

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