US: Unlikely Cambodia Will Avoid Sanctions

The US State Department’s anti-hu­man trafficking office is not optimistic that the Cambodian government will take the necessary steps to avoid sanctions for its anti-trafficking efforts, a US official said Fri­day.

The US downgraded Cambodia on its anti-trafficking watchdog list on June 3, following its handling of the Afesip case. Subsequent sanctions could be imposed by Oct 1.

“I’m not at all optimistic,” about Cam­bodia taking sufficient steps to avoid sanctions, Mark Taylor, se­nior coordinator for reports at the Office to Monitor and Combat Traf­ficking in Persons, said from Bang­kok.

“The Prime Minister’s statements do not offer much hope,” he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 8 said he was not interested in the US having downgraded Cam­­bodia, and pointed the finger at the US for bombing Cambodia in the 1970s.

Countries that have a constructive relationship with the US tend to cooperate with the State De­part­ment, and “role up their sleeves, tackle the task in hand,” and push to avoid sanctions, Taylor said.

He warned that the US could op­pose aid to Cambodia at the In­ter­na­tional Monetary Fund and the World Bank if sanctions are ap­plied, adding: “Those [aid] packages are quite large.”

Government Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he was too busy to speak to a reporter Friday.

The US has asked Cambodia to re­investigate the Chai Hour II Ho­tel, and to arrest and prosecute a spe­cific number of human traffickers and complicit government officials, Taylor said.

The US has not named specific officials to the Cam­bodian government, he said, and declined to say how many arrests have been re­quest­ed. He al­so alleged that in­creased bureaucracy has hampered the Interior Ministry’s anti-trafficking efforts.

Brigadier General Un So­kun­thea, head of the In­te­rior Mi­nis­try’s anti-trafficking department, de­­clined to comment on the number of recent trafficking arrests.

“We’re working on it,” she said.

Related Stories

Latest News

The Weekly DispatchA weekly newsletter from The Cambodia Daily delivering news, analysis and opinion to your inbox. Published every Friday at 11:30am. Sign up today.