Saturday, December 11, 2004

U.S. Department of State Condemns Attack on Shelter for Trafficking Victims

The United States strongly condemns the December 8 attack in Phnom Penh on the non-governmental organization, Agir pour les Femmes En Situation Précaire--Acting for Women in Distressing Situations (AFESIP). This NGO, which receives U.S. and international assistance, provides shelter and support to trafficking victims in Cambodia. Armed assailants abducted all but one of the 91 women and children under AFESIP's care. Just one day earlier, Cambodia's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department under General Un Sokunthea had rescued 84 of them from a hotel notorious as a brothel for sex trafficking of children. We are deeply troubled that eight of the hotel's operators who had been arrested on December 7 were subsequently released and reportedly participated in the attack on AFESIP.

The United States is very concerned about the safety and well being of these women and children. The Cambodian government must take immediate and urgent action to locate, rescue and protect them. It must also take all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of AFESIP and all others involved in safeguarding trafficking victims. We call upon the Cambodian government to thoroughly investigate this case and ensure that those responsible are held accountable and brought to justice.

We applaud the brave actions taken by Cambodia's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department and call on the Government to give this unit and its leader full support in fighting trafficking and related corruption.


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

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Hundreds of foreign women, girls forced into Canadian sex trade: RCMP

At least 600 foreign women and girls are coerced into joining the Canadian sex trade each year by human traffickers, says a newly declassified RCMP report.

As many as 2,200 other newcomers are smuggled into the United States from Canada to toil in brothels, sweatshops, domestic jobs or construction work, estimates the intelligence assessment obtained by The Canadian Press. And the RCMP says the numbers may represent just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as it is widely believed only one in 10 victims of trafficking report the crime to police.

Trafficking in persons became an offence in Canada in June 2002, but there had been no cases brought before Canadian courts at the time of the report. Many of the abused and exploited are routinely treated as people who have simply broken the immigration law. As a result, they are detained and deported.

Source: Canadian Press.