US Criticizes Government Report on Afesip

The US questioned the government’s dedication to fighting hu­man trafficking as it berated the find­ings of an interministerial committee charged with investigating the Dec 8 raid on an Afesip wo­men’s shelter.

“The United States is deeply disappointed by the Cambodian government’s interministerial committee’s report,” the US State De­part­ment wrote in a statement Friday. “The findings lack credibility.”

On Dec 8, 91 women and girls, 83 of whom were rescued from the Chai Hour II hotel the previous week, were allegedly abducted from the shelter by some 30 men and women, at least one of whom was wearing a police uniform and a gun holster, witnesses said.

The committee released a re­port Thursday that said there were no officials or members of the armed forces involved in the raid, the women and girls broke free on their own and all were over the age of 18.

Since then, no arrests have been made, and the government has not taken any action against the hotel owners, a point highlighted in the US statement.

“The Cambodian government has not taken any ac­tion to ensure those responsible for the shelter raid are held ac­coun­table and brought to justice,” the statement read. “Their failure to act calls into question Cambo­dia’s willingness to address seriously the crime of hu­man trafficking.”

Afesip’s legal adviser, Aarti Ka­poor, welcomed the statement and said when the Cambodian government established the committee, it was merely trying to mollify the in­ter­national community.

Instead, Kapoor hoped other coun­tries will not only condemn the report but also remember the case when it comes time to dole out aid.

“When we met with the [Eur­­o­pean Union] last month, we ex­plicitly stated donor countries have to re­cognize where their money is going,” she said Sunday.

Government spokesmen Khieu Kanharith and Om Yentieng could not be reached for comment Sun­day.

(Additional reporting by Yun Samean)

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