Three Arrested for Raid on Women’s Shelter

Police have rescued two women who were forcefully taken from a Phnom Penh women’s shelter Sunday and arrested three men who allegedly participated in the raid, an official said Thursday.

While Keo Thea, deputy municipal anti-trafficking police chief, said he couldn’t provide much information for fear of damaging the investigation, he said the fath­er of one of the women taken in the raid on the Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights was one of those arrested.

Two men involved in the raid are still at large, he said, as well as two women who allegedly organized the raid. He said reports indicate the women had escaped to Siem Reap province.

Keo Thea said he hoped police would arrest the other two men by today, but did not mention any other suspects or the whereabouts of two other women taken during the raid.

Ten men armed with knives and stones broke into the shelter for trafficking and brothel victims Sunday afternoon and took four women recently rescued from the Vimean Kam Sann karaoke and massage parlor, officials said Tuesday.

The group was accompanied by two women who had also been rescued from the parlor but later escaped from a private clinic after one said she was sick, center staff said.

Yim Po, executive director of the center, said Thursday that he and his staff felt safer after hearing about the arrests.

“I wish to punish them by the law because if our police did not arrest them on time, our NGOs and others would feel un­com­fortable and unsafe,” he said.

A US Embassy spokesman said Thursday it was too early to comment on the case but added that the embassy was checking the matter. The US condemned a similar raid in December on an Afesip women’s shelter in which a group of men removed 91 girls and wo­men, many of whom had been ta­ken from the Chai Hour II hotel the day before.

The US has threatened to level sanctions against the country for its poor performance on trafficking issues, especially the handling of the Afesip raid.

(Additional reporting by Lee Berthiaume)


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