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During a visit to Cambodia, the US Ambassador emphasized the issue of cyber fraud.

During a visit to Cambodia, the US Ambassador emphasized the issue of cyber fraud.

Cindy Dyer, the United States’ ambassador for overseeing and addressing trafficking, intends to urge the recent Cambodian government to increase its actions in combating online scams which ensnare numerous victims of trafficking into exploitative situations.

Last week, the State Department announced that Dyer’s recent trip to Phnom Penh will provide a chance for exchanging information and coordinating efforts against human trafficking.

The November 15 statement stated that Dyer met with various officials in order to establish a connection with the new government and work together towards progress in important areas such as increasing investigations and prosecutions of cyber scams.

The spotlight has been on Cambodia’s involvement in hosting cybercriminals. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), a report published this summer revealed that around 100,000 individuals in Cambodia have been victimized by the industry.

Attracted by the possibility of employment

The report states that individuals running fraudulent networks often deceive workers from Asia by offering high-paying tech positions, only to later coerce them into participating in online scams while subjecting them to harsh living conditions.

According to a report from the UNHCHR, countries such as Indonesia, Taiwan, and China have advised Cambodia and Laos to take action against the industry. They have also cautioned their citizens about the potential hazards of traveling to these countries.

The latest global human trafficking report from the U.S. State Department, published in June, categorizes Cambodia as Tier 3, indicating that the government has not taken adequate measures to combat human trafficking and falls below the minimum requirements.

FILE - Cindy Dyer, U.S. ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons, speaks at the State Department, June 15, 2023.

Cindy Dyer, the ambassador-at-large for monitoring and combating trafficking in persons, gave a speech at the State Department on June 15, 2023.

On November 15, Dyer visited Cambodia for two days. According to an email from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, she had meetings with officials from the ministries of justice, labor and social affairs, as well as representatives from the National Police and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) within the Ministry of Interior. Dyer also engaged in conversations with civil society organizations focused on combating human trafficking.

The State Department release stated that the discussions centered around Cambodia’s actions to safeguard individuals who have been trafficked. This includes offering support services for trafficking victims and at-risk migrants, training programs for service providers and government officials to enhance their ability to identify and refer victims, and addressing new developments in forced criminal activities.

More training urged

Sam Ath, the director of operations for Licadho, a human rights organization in Cambodia, stated to VOA Khmer that Dyer’s trip emphasized the importance of addressing human trafficking and online fraud in Cambodia.

According to a spokesperson from the group’s Phnom Penh office, the United States has placed Cambodia third on their list of countries with the highest rates of human trafficking. This ranking greatly affects our country and in order for it to improve, Cambodia must make more efforts towards preventing human trafficking and online scams.

He urged the government of Cambodia to enhance the skills and capabilities of officials and authorities in order to combat cybercrime.

Am Sam Ath stated that due to the advanced nature of this crime issue, the involved authorities must receive additional training in order to stay ahead of the situation and the timing of the crimes.

Spokespeople for the National Police and the Justice Ministry, Chhay Kim Khoeun and Chin Malin respectively, did not provide a statement regarding Dyer’s visit. They directed inquiries to Chou Bun Eng, the permanent deputy chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking. VOA Khmer attempted to contact Chou Bun Eng for comment, but did not receive a response.

Katherine Diop, spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy, informed VOA Khmer that Dyer’s trip to Cambodia was a part of the United States’ global initiative to urge governments to take action in preventing human trafficking and safeguarding victims.

In an email, she expressed that the United States is in solidarity with the Cambodian population in their efforts to recognize, assist and pursue justice for victims of human trafficking.

The report by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCHR), published in late August, stated that fraudulent activities were taking place online in five Southeast Asian nations: Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

According to the U.N. report, individuals who have been forced into criminal activities online are at risk of having their basic human rights violated, including the right to life, freedom, and personal security. They may also endure torture, cruel or degrading treatment, imprisonment without cause, sexual violence, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation.

Last year, Cambodia officially recognized the issue when Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced in August that officials were being sent to various locations in the country to inspect hotels, casinos, and other establishments for potential victims of trafficking.

The government has intermittently declared plans to rescue victims and detain traffickers. However, according to experts interviewed by VOA Khmer, these actions have not significantly reduced the illegal activities or apprehended the leaders of the trafficking syndicates.