Last week, the O.U.R. Southeast Asia Team had the opportunity to attend Operation Handshake, a three-day conference in Cambodia. The purpose of this operation was to bring members of the Children, Women and Families Protection Center & Anti-Human Trafficking of Provincial Police Region 2, the Cambodian Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police, an officer from the Thailand Internet Crime Against Children (T.I.C.A.C.) and members from Agape International Missions (A.I.M.) together to exchange information on combating human trafficking.
Funded by O.U.R., this meeting was planned to strengthen relationships between all groups involved, consequently strengthening the fight against trafficking in both Thailand and Cambodia.
On the first day, the various groups traveled to Cambodia from Thailand. There were no meetings scheduled for this travel day so Thai police members toured the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields. The police mentioned that this was very informative as to how Cambodia has been recovering from the genocide. It gave them a better understanding of what Cambodians have gone through and to better approach human trafficking cases in Thailand involving Cambodians. They all felt that these tours were important to understand the history, culture and economy of Cambodia and what has brought about some of the human trafficking issues.
The police discussed ways to collaborate on human trafficking cases as well as exchanged contact information so they could have a direct line to each other. They talked about the different types of cases they both work on and see in the field, and discussed ways they have worked with NGOs like O.U.R. and AIM in investigating those cases. They also discussed some of the areas and regions that are target and trouble areas for trafficking. This was the first time many of the police officers had met either a Cambodian or a Thai police officer even though they often work in neighboring jurisdictions across the border.
Later that day, A.I.M. took members of the Royal Thai Police and O.U.R. to visit A.I.M.’s programs, schools, shelters, and work centers. They also took them to the A.I.M. SWAT office to show the Thai police how they work hand and hand with Cambodian police on human trafficking cases. A.I.M. has a good relationship with the police – members of the Cambodian Police are on A.I.M. SWAT staff. The Thai police had many questions for A.I.M. from how they conduct investigations, if they could assist with investigations in Thailand as well as the programs, shelters and work centers that A.I.M. has. This gave them many ideas to take back to Thailand and try to set up similar systems.
O.U.R. and the Thai police met to conduct an After Action Review of the trip and discuss the successes. They were also able to discuss ongoing O.U.R. cases in Thailand, which gave the police the opportunity to give specifics about what they need in order to support the rescues and arrests in Thailand. Pol. Col. Greetha Tankanarat, Deputy Commander of Singburi Provincial Police, says the events from this trip met his expectations,
“We’ve had the opportunity to get a better understanding about this country and the type of work that NGOs and police have done here. More importantly was the connection between the two countries and police agencies that will hopefully bring better cooperation to fight human trafficking.”
Overall the operation and trip was a huge success. Connections were made between the Cambodian and Thai police to assist each other in combating human trafficking violations and to rescue victims in need. The bridge to have O.U.R. and A.I.M. assist both police agencies was established and strengthened as well as the partnerships with each other. Continued collaboration has been agreed upon and future meetings across the borders have been established.
O.U.R.’s partner Agape International Missions (A.I.M.) does a lot of work in Cambodia to save victims of trafficking and help them through the recovery process. Read more about their efforts here.
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