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The Victim gets arrested- Trafficking in Cambodia Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by edgar, United Kingdom Aug 16, 2002
Human Rights  


In June, fourteen Vietnamese girls who are alleged victims of trafficking were arrested by Cambodian authorities after they were rescued from a brothel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said today. On June 20, police arrested the fourteen girls at the offices of an NGO that had rescued them. The girls are being held in a correctional centre outside of Phnom Penh. A warrant for their arrest charged the girls with illegal entry into Cambodia under the immigration law. Three of the girls were released on bail on June 24 until their trial,though the judge has refused to drop the charges against any of the girls.

The arrested girls were originally rescued during a police raid on a brothel on May 23 in a red-light district of Phnom Penh, where it is well known that young girls, including virgins, are offered for sex. Ironically it was police officers from the Minors Protection Section of the Anti-Trafficking Unit at the Ministry of Interior who conducted both the rescue operation and the subsequent arrests.

The investigating judge on the case told reporters that initial findings revealed that the girls were trafficking victims, but that when the court learned the girls had entered Cambodia without legal documentation, they were no longer considered victims, but violators of Cambodian law for illegal entry into the country. The question is that who decides what the borderlines are. Besides, when shall the people responsible for the gross violation of their rights, insofar as the trafficking went, both in Vietnam and Cambodia be brought to justice? The trafficking of human beings by any means for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a crime, regardless of whether the victim consents under Cambodian law. So are Brothel owning and pimping, and both warrant strong penalties, especially if the victims are children or foriegn.

Cambodian authorities claim that the girls are all more than eighteen years of age, but human rights observers present during yesterday's arrest as well as workers for the NGO that sheltered them said they are children, aged between twelve and eighteen.

The arrests came as Cambodia's donors were meeting in Phnom Penh to pledge billions of dollars in assistance for the next few years, based in part on evaluations of Cambodia's progress in making reforms. A recent report by the U.S. Department of State says Cambodia has one of the worst records on human trafficking.



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