BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
Eight Cambodian migrant workers who were trafficked to India from Thailand’s gulf have arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport on July 6th after six months in an Indian detention centre.
The eight Cambodian workers reportedly left Cambodia last September to find jobs in Thailand, having struck a deal with a broker who promised them fake Thai visas, passage across the border and construction work, according to the victims and competent authorities.
Kim Sovanna, Deputy Director of the Legal Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that the eight people are among many victims of human trafficking that has become a growing problem for Cambodians seeking work abroad.
He stated that the trafficked men would remain under the jurisdiction of the International Organisation for Migration for the time being and did not know when they would be able to return to their families.
“I think that these men are lucky because they are able to come back home. The Royal Government of Cambodia and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) worked very hard to get them back safely,” he told reporters at the Phnom Penh International Airport.
He added that the Royal Government of Cambodia especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in coloration with IOM, NGOs and Indian Embassy to Cambodia have been working hard to get these men back from India.
Colonel Say Meng Chheang, Deputy Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau in the Ministry of Interior, said that the broker had offered Thai visas to eight men to cross the border to Thailand. However, the workers ended up being locked on a boat for 28 days and sent to India. After the Indian authorities rescued the workers from the boat, they were detained in the facilities in India for six months.
The traffickers must be punished, and that Cambodians should be better educated about the dangers before going to work illegally abroad, he said, adding that the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau will take legal action to investigate and bring the brokers and involved people to justice relating this case.
“We are now very concerned about our people who live in rural and remote areas because they do not know enough about the trafficking problems,” he said. “They find it easy to believe in these brokers and end up getting cheated,” he added.
Colonel Say Meng Chheang continued to say that to combat this problem for all Cambodians should be better educated on the dangers migrant workers face in the future.
Nuon Narin, 21, a trafficked worker from Banteay Meanchey province, said that he and his friends were cheated by a broker in promising and offering them the construction work in Thailand in 2009. He said that when he arrived in Thailand he then was sent to work in a boat in part of Thai’s sea and later he was bought to another foreign boat in the India’s gulf.
“I was cheated and I was also kept on the boat in Thailand for 28 days before I was brought illegally to India,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview.
He said that the men didn’t realise as they had been cheated until a Thai man on boat told them what was happening. The next day, he said, the man was killed.
“I think that I am lucky as I have been rescued and protected by the government and IOM to return home,” he said. “We thank the Royal Government of Cambodia, IOM and other related competent authorities for their help and protection of all of us.”
Song Pheakdey, another Cambodian worker who has just rescued from human trafficking in India, said that he and his group were held captive until the ship docked in India, where they were discovered and arrested by Indian authorities. He added that after being held for six months, they were finally allowed to return home.
“I am very happy to return home after such a dangerous ordeal. I want to give a message to all Cambodians: Don’t go to work in Thailand or another country illegally, and do not believe it if someone promises to find a job for you. We could be died there,” he said. //