Thursday, December 09, 2004

Attack on Cambodian Shelter for Trafficking Victims Demands Swift Response

The Future Group is condemning in the strongest terms yesterday's assault on a recovery centre for rescued victims of human trafficking that it has worked with since 2000 (run by the organization AFESIP).

The Associated Press reported today that 30 men and women, some armed with handguns, attacked a shelter in the Cambodian capital and kidnapped more than 80 rescued victims of the sex trade. The attackers surrounded the shelter, assaulted its guards and forced the women - half who were underage - into four-wheel drive vehicles.

Action from local authorities is immediately necessary to: (1) regain the freedom of the 80 victims that were illegally retaken by their traffickers by force, (2) apprehend and prosecute these traffickers to the full extent of the law, (3) enhance protection at other recovery shelters, (4) investigate allegations that members of the local police failed in their duty to intervene.

The impunity shown by traffickers in Cambodia yesterday was unprecedented. Their armed assault of a centre for rescued victims is a violation of Cambodian values and laws, and an affront to the sovereignty of the State. They have done irreparable harm by re-victimizing these women and must be swiftly brought to justice.

Our hopes and prayers are with the victims and our friends at AFESIP.

- Benjamin Perrin, Executive Director