Remarks by Veena Reddy, Mission Director, CCTIP End-of-Project Learning Conference

Friday, July 31, 2020

(as prepared for delivery)

 

  • Your Excellency Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior and Permanent Vice Chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking
  • Ms. Ana Maria Dionela, Winrock International
  • Distinguished representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
  • Distinguished representatives of civil society organizations
  • Fellow members of the development partners, ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to join you today to recognize some of the best practices in combating human trafficking and to discuss ways our efforts can have an even greater impact in the future. I would like to thank the National Committee for Counter Trafficking for their great collaboration with our Cambodia Countering Trafficking in Persons project implemented by our partner, Winrock International.

Yesterday we marked World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. It is an annual event designated to shine a light on victims of human trafficking and promote their rights. This is a global goal to which the U.S. government is deeply committed.  While we work on this issue around the world, Cambodia is one of the few countries where USAID has a robust, standalone anti-human trafficking project. We have been working in this area in Cambodia for over a decade now, and this is an opportunity to reflect on some of the achievements from our investments, especially as we celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons this week. Through this project, we have enabled  over 52,000 at-risk people to avoid undocumented migration. The project has provided wide ranging support including livelihood assistance, soft skills training, and employment opportunities along with nearly 1,300 entities from the private sector, development partners, and civil society organizations. While these are incredible achievements, we must recognize how far we still have to go.  As our CCTIP project prepares to conclude in September, now is an opportune time to take stock of what has worked well.  But it is also an opportunity to reflect on how best to address the shortcomings that continue to put too many Cambodians in great danger of being illegally trafficked.

2020 also marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report and the adoption of the United Nations Trafficking Protocol. The TIP Report is not just a diagnostic tool; it is a call to action. In addition to detailing Cambodia’s anti-trafficking efforts during the reporting year, the report also provides prioritized recommendations for improvement. We look forward to working together with NCCT and the Cambodian government in their efforts to address the remaining challenges stated in the Annual TIP report.

Together we have done a great deal to raise awareness about human trafficking, and today Cambodians across the country are more cognizant of the dangers. We have an opportunity to build on this awareness to find even more ways to prevent trafficking by addressing the root causes that make people vulnerable in the first place. This project has helped address the root causes of trafficking, worked with communities to achieve strong impact, and focused on improving viable livelihood options and savings. These are concrete and important advances, but we can and must do better.

While we strive to prevent new trafficking cases, we must also care for the survivors. I have seen many Cambodians repatriated through assistance from Cambodian embassies and nongovernmental organizations, but what can be done to ensure that those people have a better life here in Cambodia?  And what more can be done to protect Cambodian workers abroad? There is a general lack of support services available for male trafficking survivors, and the services that are available are not always effective. Now that the Minimum Standards for Protection of the Rights of Victims of Human Trafficking have been established, concrete steps can be taken to ensure their application.

We have also seen evidence that child sex trafficking has been greatly reduced. What remains is almost entirely underground, which is a reflection of Cambodian efforts to make it clear that this crime is unacceptable. On the other hand, more work needs to be done to initiate prosecutions and secure convictions. Thus, prosecuting human trafficking is an opportunity for progress. There is also a need for more sophisticated evidence collection techniques, including undercover investigations and inspections of vulnerable professions and businesses. That would decrease the reliance on witness testimony and adapt to the increasingly clandestine nature of sex trafficking in Cambodia. CCTIP is proud to have helped the Police Academy of Cambodia institutionalize CTIP training into their curriculum. Also, I am pleased to announce that USAID awarded a new program called Advancing Rights in Cambodia.  This program will work very closely with civil society organizations and development partners to provide pro bono legal advice, representation, and other support to the victims of human trafficking, forced labor, and sexual exploitation.

As we all know, human trafficking is a serious problem globally and in Cambodia and fighting it will continue to be one of our Embassy’s top priorities. We also recognize that the impacts of COVID-19 will add pressures and increase the vulnerability of populations already at risk of exploitation. I hope today’s event serves as a catalyst for rethinking our efforts and for reinvigorating our commitment to supporting Cambodia in its own efforts to eradicate this terrible scourge. 

Again, I would like to sincerely thank Winrock International for its tremendous effort through the CCTIP project and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking for its partnership and commitment to combat human trafficking. I wish you all success in your efforts to eliminate human trafficking in Cambodia. 

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 24, 2020

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