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Flying balloons with trafficking messages…

The estimated total around 1,700 people have gathered in the 3rd Cambodia National Inter-faith Forum on “Combating Human Trafficking and Ending Modern Slavery” on 14 August 2019 at Koh Pich Center-Phnom Penh-Cambodia. The forum was co-organized by National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), Ministry of Cult and Religions and Caritas Cambodia with great cooperation and participation by key religious leaders such as Buddhism, Catholic Church, Christians Church and Muslim together with Non-Government Organization, Civil Society and likeminded NGO who are working on combating human trafficking in Cambodia.

The national forum was presided over by Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, Minister of Interior and the Chairman of National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) and government leaders, national assembly, Senate, key religious leaders and members from the four main regions: Buddhism, Catholic, Protestant churches and Muslim, government ‘staffs, youth, Local NGOs and International NGOs, and businesses sector.

In an effort to promote interreligious dialogues to fight against trafficking, Caritas Cambodia and its partner organizations have been working hard over the past four years to make the day happen.

The important activities were organized in the forum include peace walking, distributing leaflet combating against human trafficking for awareness to public people, exhibition booth, dissemination of documents and IEC materials, remark and message by Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, Minister of Interior and the Chairman of National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), Religious prayers and messaging by each religion and Marching altogether by carrying out the messages and blow the balloon into the air. The forum is a good model of partnership between the national government and faith-based organizations working together to fight against trafficking and ending modern slavery.

According to the statement by NCCT and Caritas Cambodia, the main purpose of the forum is twofold. Firstly, to promote the harmonization of different religions in the Kingdom of Cambodia to conserve peace and human rights in order to promote dignity and prosperity of the nation. Secondly, to show the importance roles of the faith leaders in providing education and knowledge on the impacts of human trafficking to all people so that they will participate in prevention, protection and combating human trafficking that leads to eliminate this modern slavery.

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H.E. Him Chhem, Senior Minister, Minister of Cults and Religious Affairs addressing his remark
Addressing at the forum, H.E. Him Chhem, Senior Minister, Minister of Cults and Religious Affairs. Said, in order to contribute to the combatting human trafficking, this third National Interfaith Forum is organized for three main purposes:
1.    To promote awareness of human trafficking, and to show the importance roles of the faith leaders in providing education and knowledge on the impacts of human trafficking to all people so that they will participate in prevention, protection and combating human trafficking that leads to eliminate this modern slavery.
2.    To expand and strengthen good co-operation between relevant institutions, especially religious institutions in the education of human trafficking and modern slavery in pagoda, churches and various religious ceremonies.
3.    The voice of recite and prayer to give hope to victims of trafficking and to restore their freedom.
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Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, President of Caritas Asia and as the Representative of Caritas Asia’s Member Organization addressing his remark

Dr. Benedict D’Rozario, President of Caritas Asia and as the Representative of Caritas Asia’s Member Organization has quoted Pope Francis “among so many open wounds in our world, one of the most troubling is the trade of human beings, a modern form of slavery, which violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters.” He said, one of the main causes of human trafficking is poverty – poverty is our common enemy – we can overcome poverty by well-planned development interventions including education, health and livelihood supports and employment creation through skills and vocational training. We must aim and work for poverty-free society.

Dr. stressed, one of our missions through our work in the region is to promote and ensure collaboration and better cooperation within Caritas family and with other like-minded institutions, including government bodies and other faith-based organizations, to combat human trafficking, which is in line with the vision as the Royal government of Cambodia; to promote human dignity, global solidarity and empowerment of all people, and ensure protection from human trafficking.
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Mr. Kim Rattana addressing his remark on behalf of Caritas’s Greater Mekong Sub-region Anti-trafficking Taskforce

Human trafficking is happening everywhere, and the issue is increasing complex. Human being become a goods and being trafficked badly. Mr. Kim Rattana, Executive Director of Caritas Cambodia has quoted Pope Francis “Human trafficking is a serious sin, evil of shameful, and it is a crime against humanity”
Commitment is required to prevent human trafficking. “This requires real commitment and participation from all related stakeholders,” he said. “We all must help to disseminate information and raise awareness among people in order to prevent human trafficking and modern-day slavery.”

Mr. Rattana stressed on the work of Caritas in Cambodia and the region. On behalf of the organization committee, he thanked all partners and donors for their financial, technical and spiritual support. He is hopeful that the Royal government of Cambodia will continue to support this meaningful event.
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Excellency Chou Bun Eng, the vice chairman of NCCT presenting the latest report of human trafficking in Cambodia

Addressing at the forum, Excellency Chou Bun Eng, the vice-chairman of NCCT said that there have been 78 cases of trafficking crackdowns, 16 cases more than the year 2018. And 97 detained suspects and sent to court. Rescue 263 victims, an increase of 157 people compared with the year 2018. Among the victims were under-aged 15, 70 people. Aged 15 to 17, 31 people and from aged 18 there have 162 people. 72 victims were sent to the Department of Social Affairs, and 191 others returned to their families.

Excellency added that, migrant workers' work has been coordinated and provided legal documents to return to Cambodia. Most of the repatriated workers returned from Thailand, more than 20,000, which makes up 43.21% of the total worker.

Over the past six months, 71 bodies have been returned (12 girls, 1 child). Regardless of which bodies were cremated or were not reported in the target country.

Excellency stressed for witnesses of strong commitment all together in combatting human trafficking and Ending Modern Slavery of the Royal government
The forum was concluded with 9 core trafficking messages, which are firmly supported to implement by the four main faith leaders in Cambodia.
  • Human Trafficking, Labor Exploitation, Sexual trafficking is a serious sin that must be avoided.
  • We are all fighting for the crime of human trafficking and other crimes.
  • Support the Government’s policy to improve the living conditions of workers, farmers and civil servants to reduce risk of migration.
  • All of us, of all ages, are not goods for human traffickers or exploiters.
  • We support and promote prosecution of perpetrators to provide justice to victims.
  • Commit to expand awareness of the impact of human trafficking to our community in order to escape the suffering.
  • ogether we do good deeds to help, care for and not discriminate against victims in our community, especially women and children.
  • All people, regardless of their religious beliefs and circumstances, are still brothers, who need the same love and care.
  • Fully support the Royal Government's policy to promote the well-being of Cambodian religion.
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Samdech Krolahom Sar Kheng is delivering his remark at the 3rd National Interfaith forum

Samdech Krola Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Chair of National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT) extended his appreciation and announced his continued support for the national inter-faith forum to be organized in the future. All religions are showing their full support of the government's policy of combating trafficking in persons. Samdech also encouraged all religions to take more part in raising awareness of trafficking its religion. He added, “And what we can do is to educate the community in our religion to know about the way in which the wicked do their business… Is that I think beneficial.”

He said, as the representative of Caritas Asia confirmed, I fully support what he has mentioned. However, I feel that there are other causes to strengthen law enforcement, government commitment and involvement, and co-operation from all relevant sector.


More photos: 3rd Cambodia National Interfaith Forum on Combating Human Trafficking, 14th August 2019, Phnom Penh.

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