Leaders of various faiths in Cambodia pledge their commitment to combat human trafficking

More than 1,700 people have gathered in the 2nd Cambodia National Interfaith Forum on Combating Human Trafficking on 30th August 2018 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This very important and enthusiasm event has been initiated and led by the National Committee for Counter Trafficking in persons (NCCT) of the Cambodian government, the Ministry of Religion and Caritas Cambodia, with voluntary support from four main faith groups of Buddhism, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim and partner organizations who are actively working on counter trafficking in persons.

The forum was presided over by Samdech Krolahom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, Minister of Interior and the Chairman of National Committee for Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT).

In an effort to promote interreligious dialogues to fight against trafficking, Caritas Cambodia and its partner organizations have been working hard over the past few years to make the day happen.

About 800 representatives of the four main religions namely Buddhism, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim came together for the second time to pray, convey messages and share its commitment towards elimination of trafficking. The forum is a good model of partnership between the national government and faith based organizations working together to fight against trafficking and ending modern slavery.

According to the statement by NCCT and Caritas Cambodia, the main purpose of the forum is threefold. Firstly, it is to prove the harmonization of different religions in the Kingdom of Cambodia to conserve Peace and Human rights in order to promote human dignity and prosperity of the nation. Secondly, it shows the importance of the faith leaders in providing education and knowledge on the impacts of human trafficking to all people so that they will participate in prevention and combating human trafficking that leads to eliminate this modern slavery. And thirdly, the event aims to promote the importance of Interfaith Forum in over the nation of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Key representatives from the government, parliamentarians, senators, as well as government officials, Buddhist monks, faith leaders and other Buddhists, Muslims, Catholic and Protestant community, the United Nations agencies, other affiliations and representatives of interfaith organizations, development partners, Cambodian Red Cross, youth group and association, and media participated the event. All have pledged to work together to fight against trafficking.

Addressing at the forum, Excellency Chou Bun Eng, the vice chairman of NCCT said the Royal government of Cambodia, represented by NCCT of the Ministry of Interior reaffirmed its commitment towards combating human trafficking and ending modern slavery by working together with different stakeholders nationally and cross-borders. She added “this event today demonstrates government’s firm commitment to address trafficking related issues”.

Human trafficking, commonly known as “modern slavery”, is a crime against humanity. It affects lives of the human beings and steals human dignity. Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Cambodian adults and children migrate to other countries within the region and increasingly to the Middle East for work; many are subjected to forced labour on fishing vessels, agriculture, construction, factories and domestic servitude—often through debt bondage—or to sex trafficking. Most of them come from impoverished families.

Human trafficking is happening everywhere and the issue is increasing complex. Mr. Kim Rattana, Executive Director of Caritas Cambodia and representative of Caritas’s Greater Mekong Sub-Region Anti-trafficking Taskforce has quoted Pope Francis “Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society.”

"Our Mission is working towards elimination of human trafficking, the promotion of human dignity, global solidarity and empowerment of people in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region", Mr. Rattana stressed on the work of Caritas in Cambodia and the region. On behalf of the organization committee, he thanked all partners and donors for their financial, technical and spiritual support. Mr. Rattana is hopeful that the Royal government of Cambodia will continue to support this meaningful event.

Samdech Krola Hom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and the Chair of National Committee to Counter Trafficking in Persons (NCCT) extended his appreciation and announced his continued support for the national interfaith forum to be organized in the future. He said this event is not only an opportunity to gather various religious groups and people to pray and convey messages on combating trafficking but it shows concerted effort of collaboration and partnership to promote human dignity , build peace and prosperity in the nation-wide.

At this event, a variety of activities were presented to bring greater public awareness on trafficking issues through booth exhibition, video sharing, report presentation, prayers by different faiths, marching, blowing balloons with trafficking messages and dissemination of documents.

The forum was concluded with 9 core trafficking messages, which are firmly supported to implement by the four main faith leaders in Cambodia.

  1. Human Trafficking, Labor Exploitation, Sexual trafficking is a serious sin that must be avoided.
  2. We are all fighting for the crime of human trafficking and other crimes.
  3. Support the Government’s policy to improve the living conditions of workers, farmers and civil servants to reduce risk of migration.
  4. All of us, of all ages, are not goods for human traffickers or exploiters.
  5. We support and promote prosecution of perpetrators to provide justice to victims.
  6. Commit to expand awareness of the impact of human trafficking to our community in order to escape the suffering.
  7. Together we do good deeds to help, care for and not discriminate against victims in our community, especially women and children.
  8. All people, regardless of their religious beliefs and circumstances, are still brothers, who need the same love and care.
  9. Fully support the Royal Government's policy to promote the well-being of Cambodian religion.