We often share the success of the AIM SWAT Team in terms of the number of women and girls being rescued from trafficking and perpetrators who have been arrested. These are great victories and showcase the practical work that is being done in conjunction with the local police to end trafficking in Cambodia. However, there is a different side to this partnership which focuses on preparing and training police and local agencies to tackle the issue of trafficking effectively. Our partners at Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) are also passionate about seeing local governments around the world fight trafficking. With their help and support, AIM was able to assist the Cambodian police in multiple ways in 2021, beyond physical investigation and rescue work.
When women and girls are rescued from trafficking, it is often an exhausting and scary experience. AIM SWAT works with the police to ensure that survivors understand they are safe. Nonetheless, raids often happen in the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning, meaning that survivors – along with AIM Social Workers – spend significant time at the police station while the case is being processed. Because of this situation, we recently helped police make renovations at one of the major stations in Phnom Penh.
With funding provided by OUR and coordinated by AIM with local police, the room where survivors stay right after rescue was refreshed and is now a more inviting place where they can begin to recognize their freedom. This is the very beginning of their healing journey and our team has ensured that it is as comfortable as it can be. Where before, the room was fairly bare, now survivors have comfortable couches, books, working air conditioning and more. Additionally, a massive bathroom remodel now provides a clean and safe amenity, as survivors begin to see that they are going to be cared for and loved!
In working with local police, the AIM SWAT Team is often seen as an expert in the anti-trafficking field. We were asked to support in a series of internal trainings to the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection (AHTJP) police in 2021. The first training, held with a group of AHTJP officers in Phnom Penh and AIM SWAT Team, taught officers more about undercover policing and investigating, case reporting, criminal and law procedures, court procedure, evidence gathering, and operation planning and execution. The second training, including 15 male and 15 female officers, provided similar training for those newer to the service. Having a better knowledge of what evidence to look for, signs of trafficking, what questions to ask victims and suspects, and how to prepare files for court will allow the police to better perform raids in the future, while ensuring that justice can be brought to perpetrators. Both trainings were a great success, and AIM SWAT Team is looking forward to the continued partnership with the local police, including continued training and education!
We are so proud of and grateful for the brave men and women of the Cambodian Police force and on the AIM SWAT Team who commit to fighting this evil everyday. We are also grateful for our partners at O.U.R., who are like minded in this fight – passionate about seeing women and girls rescued and walking in freedom. Without these partnerships, our efforts to rescue those caught in the horrors of trafficking would not be as successful. Thank you for helping us secure freedom for these women and girls!