Interfaith Forum

The Cambodian National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking, the Ministry of Cults and Region, Caritas Cambodia, spiritual leaders from​Buddhism, Muslim and   the Catholic Church, some Catholics and NGOs​attended the 3rd Interfaith Forum on Combating human trafficking and​modern slavery on 14 August 2019 in the Phnom Penh capital’s the Koh Pich Exhibition Center.

The forum was presided over by Samdech Krala Hoam Sar Kheng, the Minister of Interior who is also the chairman of the Cambodian National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking with 1,700 people participating.

Religion representatives carrying banners and signs marched from the Cambodian-Vietnamese Monument to the center to attend the form.​Addressing the forum, Minister of Cults and Religion Him Chhem said that the purpose of the forum as follows.

First, promote the importance of the interfaith forum in the Kingdom of Cambodia showing the harmony of the Kingdom.  Cambodia brought national peace, respect for human rights, dignity and growth of the people.

Second, show the crucial role of various spiritual leaders in publicising education and knowledge for the people on life morality.  Avoid human abuse, trafficking and exploitation in all forms and help instruct them to participating in preventing and fighting against to eliminate human trafficking – modern disgusting slavery and

Third, bring the voice of reciting a prayer of religion about hope for victims suffering from human trafficking and in order for them to be freed soon again.

Dr. Benedict AloD’Rozario, the representative of Caritas Cambodia said that most of the human trafficking victims were poor and uneducated who were easily deceived. “Poverty is our enemy. We can overcome it by providing the people with education, accesses to good health, decent living and professional and skilled work. We all are to be committed to [doing the work] in order for society not to have poverty.”

Currently Caritas worldwide are working in areas promoting and cooperating between Caritas and Caritas; Caritas and partners including the government.  The work was to uphold human dignity and ensure a better protection, he added.

Concerning the point, Sar Kheng further said all the religions had participated in showing their intention of fully supporting the policies of government to fight against human trafficking.  He also encouraged them to pay greater attention to participating in publicising knowledge of human trafficking to their religions.

“And what we can do is to educate and publicise it to various circles in our religions. The vulnerable people came to learn about plans of criminal elements in trafficking. I think it useful,” he also elaborated.

A  National Committee for Counter Trafficking of Cambodia (NCCT)’s report showed that in the past  the authorities had cracked down on  78 cases – an increase of 16 cases, compared to 2018, and detained 97 suspects and sent them to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Victims had numbered 263 – an increase of 175 compared to 2018. There were 70 victims aged under 15 and 31 aged between 15 and 17 and 162 were 18 years old and over.

Chou Bun Eng, the Secretary of State and Permanent Vice-Chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking of Cambodia (NCCT) added that the 72 victims were sent to the Department of Social Affairs, while 191 others were allowed to return to their families.

She went on to say that concerning migrant workers oversee in the past, the government had facilitated and provided them with legal documentation to return to Cambodia. Most of the workers repatriated from Thailand had numbered more than 20,000, accounting for 43.21 per cent of the total workers.

So far, the bodies of the workers who were formally sent back numbered 71. The number was excluded the bodies cremated or the bodies went unreported at destination countries.

Before closing the forum, Sar Kheng, Chou Bun Eng and all religious leaders released a joint message confirm the intention of combating human trafficking.