Key Players in Siem Reap Human Trafficking Network Convicted

Photo courtesy of IJM

IJM Cambodia’s first cross-border labor trafficking conviction brings down major trafficking ring

May 19 2017, Siem Reap – On May 18, three Cambodian citizens were convicted by a Siem Reap court for trafficking six Cambodian men into the Thai fishing industry.  These convictions are an important milestone in Cambodia’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons and were made possible in part by support from International Justice Mission (IJM), with funding from the USAID Counter Trafficking-in-Persons (CTIP) program managed by Winrock International.

Human traffickers Nath Sambath (Keo), Nget Phalla (La) and Moeut Kia were sentenced to nine, nine and eight years’ imprisonment respectively under Article 11 of the Cambodian anti-human trafficking law by the Siem Reap Court of First Instance. The six victims were awarded compensation in amounts ranging from two million to twenty-five million riel (about 6,250 U.S. Dollars).

The case came to light after the Royal Cambodian Government repatriated approximately 230 Cambodian men in June 2015, many of whom were severely exploited on Thai fishing vessels. With the assistance of IJM, the Siem Reap Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police (AHTJPP) uncovered a common thread in the trafficked men’s stories. The network of Nath Sambath, Nget Phalla and Moeut Kia, who recruited, transported and sold the men to ship captains in Thai ports, trapped the Cambodian migrant workers on the vessels for years (in some cases more than a decade) under horrendous conditions, and withheld the men’s pay for their own profit.  The traffickers had been operating for more than seven years.

“Thank you to the prosecutors and judges who seek justice for victims of human trafficking and their compensation. This conviction is a warning message to traffickers that Cambodia has laws and a public justice system to prosecute them if they commit the crime of human trafficking,” said Col. Duong Thavry, Chief of Office for the Siem Reap AHTJPP.

“These three traffickers are responsible for causing great pain and suffering for many young Cambodians,” said Peter Williams, Director of IJM Cambodia  “They have been convicted today thanks to the skill and passion of Col. Duong Thavry and the Siem Reap police, the great energy and effort of public prosecutors Mr. Kieut Vannareth and Ms. Chhuon Sophea, and the bravery of the men who testified in the trial.  Such decisive action from Cambodia’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police and Cambodia’s courts sends a strong warning to all who would seek to profit from trafficking in persons.”

International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization, launched a new project in Cambodia in 2016 specifically to address labor trafficking. 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. IJM equips justice system officials, community leaders, and civil society organizations to effectively identify victims and enforce laws against labor trafficking.

Since September 2015, USAID’s CTIP program has provided legal aid to more 300 survivors of trafficking and abused migrants, leading to the conviction of eight human traffickers.

For further information, please contact:

Contact: Peter Williams, Field Office Director

Organization: International Justice Mission (IJM)


Phone: 012-901-446


About the U.S. Agency for International Development

USAID was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and serves as the lead agency of the U.S. Government for foreign assistance. Since 1992, USAID has invested approximately $1 billion towards Cambodia’s development.  For further information about USAID Cambodia, please visit

About Winrock International

Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock’s mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe. For more information about Winrock International, please visit

About IJM Cambodia

International Justice Mission (IJM) is a global human rights organization that partners with the Cambodian National Police’s Anti-Human Trafficking & Juvenile Protection (AHTJP) Police Department, Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth (MoSAVY) and Ministry of Justice to provide police and social work training, technical support, and casework mentorship to identify and rescue victims from labor trafficking, ensure high quality aftercare services, bring criminals to justice, and increase deterrence so that crime decreases.

For further information about International Justice Mission, please visit

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