IJM Launches Project to Combat Labor Trafficking in Cambodia


WASHINGTON, DC, August 05, 2016.
Today, a young woman named Sophea* is finally home in Cambodia, free after months held captive in China. She had been sold to a Chinese husband who physically and sexually abused her, forced her to work in his business for no pay, and kept her locked in the family compound. This bride trafficking case amplifies the challenges in combating cross-border labor trafficking cases.

As a response to this need for increased collaboration, International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, launched a new project in Cambodia to address labor trafficking in 2016. Through a generous grant from USAID managed by Winrock International, IJM is leveraging existing relationships with Cambodian law enforcement and justice system officials, built through years of collaboration in addressing the crime of sex trafficking of children, to combat cross-border trafficking and domestic labor trafficking. This new project is a part of USAID-Cambodia Countering Trafficking-in-Persons (CTIP) program.

Labor trafficking in Southeast Asia and reports of slavery in supply chains are making international headlines. Cambodia, which sits in the heart of the region, is a source, transit and destination country.

“In a situation that once seemed hopeless, we’ve seen the people of Cambodia rise up to combat child sex trafficking through increased law enforcement capacity and the transformation of the public justice system,” said Blair Burns, IJM’s Senior Vice President of Justice System Transformation, “Now, armed with a model that works, we are uniquely positioned to partner with the Cambodian government, local authorities, and partners to address another injustice faced by the nation of Cambodia— labor trafficking.”

Impoverished migrant workers in Cambodia are particularly vulnerable in a variety of cross-border industries, including fishing and domestic servitude. Within the country’s own borders, forced labor slavery cases have been reported in construction, manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors.

Funding from USAID through Winrock International makes possible a new project to combat cross-border and domestic slavery. IJM will equip justice system officials, community leaders, and civil society organizations to effectively identify victims and enforce laws against labor trafficking. During the two-year project, IJM will assess whether to establish a long-term system reform project to eradicate slavery in Cambodia, as well as develop a blueprint for regional collaboration to combat labor trafficking.

“The USAID-Cambodia Countering Trafficking in Persons Program is a significant part of the U.S. government’s efforts to help Cambodia end human trafficking once and for all,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Julie Chung. “This new partnership with IJM to address labor slavery addresses one of the most difficult and dangerous forms of human trafficking—one that affects not just the victims, but also their families and communities.”

“CTIP’s four-year program will address root causes to prevent trafficking, offering diversified, climate-resilient livelihood pathways that reduce dependence on seasonal agriculture, and educating vulnerable individuals on safe migration.” said Sara Piazzano, Chief of Party, USAID-CTIP program. She added that CTIP will “strengthen the Royal Government of Cambodia efforts to counter trafficking in persons at the national and sub-national levels.”