Government rescinds threat to shut down a US-based evangelical charity.
A shocking news segment on child sex trafficking in Cambodia spurred American evangelicals to get involved in the cause 13 years ago. A recent CNN update on the industry almost ended more than decade of anti-trafficking ministry by a major Christian charity.
The controversial story, which portrayed mothers selling their daughters to work in brothels, offended the country’s top leader, who threatened to expel Agape International Missions (AIM) from Cambodia.
Prime Minister Hun Sen took issue with the characterization of Cambodians in CNN coverage from July since the women featured—like a disproportionate number involved in trafficking in Cambodia—were ethnically Vietnamese, not Cambodian.
On Tuesday, the leader of the majority-Buddhist nation accepted AIM’s apology over the segment and has rescinded calls to shut down the organization’s schools, shelters, and offices, mostly based in the heavily Vietnamese Svay Pak slums.
AIM, the subject of CT’s June cover story, investigates more than half of all sex trafficking raids that take place in Cambodia and has rescued over 100 underage girls in recent years.
The evangelical charity works in partnership with the anti-human trafficking division of the national police to catch perpetrators and provide recovery for young victims. It had received commendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in July, just days before the prime minister pledged, “No matter what it costs us, this organization has to leave Cambodia.”
The government investigation ultimately found AIM to be sincere in its explanation and apology.
"Recently, myself and the NGO I led, Agape International Missions, were mistakenly accused of working …