The Cambodian government has launched the country's first national task force to combat human trafficking.
Thousands of people are trafficked in or through the south-east Asian nation every year. The new task force will bring together government ministries, law enforcement groups and international agencies.
Cambodia has hundreds of different anti-trafficking organisations, and reducing duplication of effort will be one of the task force's main goals. Anti-trafficking is a fashionable cause, and donors have poured untold millions of dollars into efforts to help victims and punish traffickers.
But in Cambodia at least, that eagerness to help has also been the cause of consternation. There are so many organisations operating here that it can be difficult to measure the success of anti-trafficking efforts, and many of them are competing for donor funding, muddying the waters still further.
The new task force hopes to co-ordinate efforts and get a clearer picture of what is actually going on. "The problem up until now has been that we have about 200 organisations at least, and international organisations and government ministries," said Mariel Sander Linstrom of the Asia Foundation, who is the technical adviser to the task force.
She said that probably more than 5,000 people were all over Cambodia trying to stop trafficking, but they were not speaking to each other or following the same systems or standards. Improving law enforcement is another goal. In the past, police efforts to arrest traffickers have been undermined by courts failing to prosecute suspects or throwing out cases.
Despite the problems, there are signs that Cambodia is making some progress. Last year, the United States elevated the country from the lowest level on its human trafficking watch list.
Adapted from: Guy Delauney. "Trafficking crackdown in Cambodia." BBC News. 6 April 2007
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