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Press Releases 2010

Cambodia Upgraded to Tier 2 on 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

Released June 15th, 2010

On Monday, June 14th, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the release of the State Department's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.  This year Cambodia has been upgraded to Tier 2, a noted improvement from last year’s ranking of Tier 2 Watchlist.  Over the past year, the Cambodian government demonstrated increased efforts to address human trafficking.  Law enforcement efforts stepped up significantly, resulting in an increase in convictions over the prior year. The Government also issued guidelines to improve victim treatment and protection, and began to train officials on the use of these standards.

Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children, who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution.  Cambodian men, women, and children migrate to Thailand, Malaysia, and other countries for work and many are subsequently forced into commercial sexual exploitation or forced to labor in fishing and seafood processing industries, on agricultural plantations, in factories, in domestic work, or for begging and street selling.  Debt bondage is sometimes a factor that contributes to the vulnerability of Cambodians to trafficking.  Local recruiting agencies sometimes detained recruits in training centers during the pre-departure training period, and the fees make workers more vulnerable to debt bondage. Some workers are reportedly subjected to confinement and conditions of involuntary servitude in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and other destination countries, and some returning workers reported being paid only at the end of their contract, at which time they were also informed that a substantial part of their pay was deducted.  Parents sometimes sell their children into exploitation or domestic servitude.  Within the country, children are also subjected to forced labor, including being forced to beg, scavenge refuse, work in quarries, and work in the production and processing of bricks, rubber, salt, and shrimp. 

The Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.  The Royal Government demonstrated significant progress in law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking during the last year. Authorities convicted 36 trafficking offenders; all but one of these convictions were for sex trafficking.  Authorities also reported one conviction of a public official for trafficking-related corruption during the year.  The Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSAVY) issued a new “Policy and National Minimum Standards for the Protection of the Rights of Victims of Human Trafficking," which includes guidelines to improve victim treatment and protection, and began to train officials on the use of these standards. The government partnered with NGOs to train several thousand police, social workers, court officials and other employees on the 2008 law and its enforcement.

To improve its Tier ranking, the Royal Government of Cambodia should conduct robust investigations and prosecutions of government officials involved in trafficking activities, expand efforts to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups and refer them to adequate victim services, and establish protections for Cambodian migrant workers such as laws to regulate recruitment and placement.  The Royal Government of Cambodia should also continue training officials, particularly provincial-level police, about human trafficking, especially since some officials wrongly believe that enforcing laws against non-trafficking sex crimes contributes to efforts to combat trafficking.  .

The U.S. Congress, through its passage of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), as amended, requires the Secretary of State to submit this report each year.  The 177-country report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat trafficking in persons, a modern form of slavery.  The goal of the report is to raise global awareness and spur countries to take effective actions to counter trafficking in persons.  The assessment includes reports on 175 countries assigned ranks, including the first-ever ranking of the United States, and special case commentaries on Haiti and Somalia.  Countries assessed as meeting the "minimum standards for the elimination of severe forms of trafficking" set forth in the TVPA are classified as Tier 1.  Countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards, but making significant efforts to meet those minimum standards, are classified as Tier 2.  Countries assessed as neither complying with the minimum standards nor making significant efforts to do so are classified as Tier 3.

This year, in keeping with the Obama Administration’s commitment to hold the United States to the same standards to which we hold others, and following up Secretary Clinton’s pledge made at the release of 2009 TIP Report last June, the 2010 TIP Report contains a full narrative and ranking of the United States for the first time.  The U.S. narrative is a candid and detailed assessment of U.S. anti-trafficking efforts, based on the same methodology used to determine rankings for other countries.  It points out a number of deficiencies in those efforts, and contains a list of recommendations for improvement.  While the United States is ranked as Tier 1, it is important to remember that Tier 1 means the United States complies with the TVPA minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, not that the United States does not have a human trafficking problem.  A Tier 1 ranking means there is much room for improvement; that is the case for all countries ranked Tier 1. 

The U.S. Embassy looks forward to working further with the Cambodian government in the upcoming year to achieve the necessary steps to see Cambodia maintain Tier Two, and eventually achieve Tier One, status.

The entire TIP Report as well as the text of the TVPA and amendments are available on-line at

U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons -