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Press Releases 2009

Cambodia Placed on Tier 2 Watch List in 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report

Released in Phnom Penh, June 17, 2009

On Tuesday June 16th, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the release of the State Department's 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report.  This year Cambodia has been placed on the Tier 2 Watch List, a reversal of last year’s Tier Two ranking.  While the Cambodian Government overall has made progress in responding to trafficking issues, the past year has witnessed a decline in efforts to combat trafficking in persons, specifically in regard to prosecution of trafficking related crimes. 

Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.  Women and girls are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for exploitative labor as domestic workers and forced prostitution.  Some Cambodian men migrate willingly to Thailand and Malaysia for work and are subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor in the fishing, construction, and agricultural industries.  Cambodian men and women repatriated from Malaysia report experiencing conditions of forced labor after migrating there for work with the assistance of Cambodian labor recruitment companies. Cambodian children are trafficked to Thailand and Vietnam to beg, sell candy or flowers, or shine shoes.  Parents sometimes sell their children into involuntary servitude to serve as beggars, into brothels for commercial sexual exploitation, or into domestic servitude.  Within Cambodia, children are trafficked for forced begging, waste scavenging, salt production, brick making, and quarrying.

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.  Despite these overall efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in convicting and punishing human trafficking offenders including complicit public officials, or in protecting trafficking victims; therefore, Cambodia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

To improve its Tier ranking, Cambodia should work to significantly improve the number of prosecutions, convictions, and punishments of trafficking offenders; and substantially improve efforts to prosecute, convict, and criminally punish public officials complicit in 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 164-country report is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat trafficking in persons.  The goal of the report is to stimulate action and create partnerships around the world in the fight against modern-day slavery.  Countries determined to have a significant number of trafficking victims are assigned to one of three tiers.  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.

The TVPA also requires the Secretary of State to provide a "Special Watch List" of countries to be evaluated again in an Interim Assessment that the Secretary must provide to Congress by February 1 of each year.  In addition to tracking countries that move up in "tier" ratings -- from 3 to 2 or from 2 to 1 -- the Special Watch List also effectively established a new, fourth tier --Tier Two Watch List.  This tier consists of Tier Two countries determined: (1) not to have made "increasing efforts" over the past year; (2) to have avoided Tier 3 status based on commitments of anti-trafficking reforms over the next year, or (3) to have a very significant number of trafficking victims or a significantly increasing victim population.

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 move back to Tier Two, and eventually 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 -