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Building an effective response to migrant smuggling in Cambodia

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 11 December 2012 - The prospect of higher wages abroad is a major driver of irregular migration out of Cambodia. A majority of migrants choose Thailand as their destination, and often resort to the assistance of migrant smugglers. Irregular migration and migrant smuggling lead to, and create, situations of potential abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.

Thus, migrant smuggling not only undermines states' sovereign control of their borders but also puts migrants at risk - to the benefit of criminals and transnational organized crime groups who take advantage of migrants' dreams for a better life.

To combat migrant smuggling, UNODC and its partners in Cambodia have implemented a number of initiatives designed to address migrant smuggling. Two leading projects are the Establishment and Operation of a Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU), funded by the Government of Australia, and the Canadian Government-funded Port Intelligence Unit Project (PIU). As part of these projects, law enforcement officials and immigration officers in Cambodia have undergone several training courses.

"Border controls and law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem of migrant smuggling. They must be embedded in a wider migration and development policy framework that generates consistent policies that provide a credible framework for law enforcement action against migrant smuggling," stressed Mr. Olivier Lermet, UNODC Cambodia Country Manager during the National Parliamentary Workshop on Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, held 12 November in Phnom Penh.

Beginning the same day in Sihanoukville, the UNODC 10-day training programme on operational analysis in support of investigating migrant smuggling provided intensive training on advanced criminal intelligence analysis to 24 law enforcement officers from eight different departments - Land Border, Foreign Affairs, Maritime Police, Immigration, Interpol-National Central Bureau, Anti-human trafficking and Juvenile Protection, Internal Security and the Sihanoukville Commissariat.

The 10-day training programme followed a 2-day workshop for senior managers, where high-ranking officials familiarized themselves with the use of intelligence collecting and sharing as tools to investigate criminal cases.

Both events were organized in the framework of the Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU) project as part of the UNODC Regional Training Programme on Operational and Strategic Analysis on Migrant Smuggling.

"I am very happy to have the opportunity to learn something new, something that will be useful for my work. I wish trainings would take place on a more regular basis," said one participant, a member of the Cambodia PIU team.

Funded by the government of Canada and implemented since March 2012 in Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, the PIU project aims to combat the smuggling of migrants by sea by developing tactical intelligence cells in each of the participating countries.

Based in Sihanoukville, the Cambodia PIU project consists of a unit of 20 officers specialized in intelligence gathering and analysis. The Unit will form strong partnerships with key sections of the Cambodia National Police as well as with the international law enforcement community. It has received strong endorsement form high ranking Cambodia police officials,

"The Cambodian National Police officially endorses the implementation of the PIU project in Cambodia and commits to supporting and facilitating the establishment of the Unit in Sihanoukville," said Lt. Gen. Sok Phal, Deputy Commissioner General of the Cambodian National Police, when the PIU project was officially launched in September 2012.

The  UNODC programmes: the Development of Multi-agency Port Intelligence Units in South-East Asia (PIU), funded by the Government of Canada, and the Smuggling of Migrants Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU), funded by the Government of Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) are part of UNODC's Regional Training Programme on Operational and Strategic Analysis on Migrant Smuggling.