Category Archives: Migration policy in Cambodia

Legal immigration has downside, too: report

A new report in the journal Migration Studies casts doubt on whether legal emigration is a boon for development in Cambodia, and whether it benefits the Kingdom’s workers.

Experts have long noted that emigration tends to increase as a country develops. In the case of Cambodia, migration shot up over the past decade alongside economic growth. An estimated 1 million Cambodians were based overseas in 2013, the majority in Thailand.

Meanwhile, there is considerable optimism that overseas migration helps boost development and reduce poverty, the study’s author notes. Along with this optimism is an assumption that legal migration is always preferable.

But research by Maryann Bylander, of Lewis and Clark University, shows that legal migration is usually only available to workers who are already better off in relative terms, a fact that minimises migration’s ability to reduce poverty.

Increasing barriers to irregular migration might make it difficult for poor Cambodians to seek opportunities, Bylander determined.

“Scholars and policy-makers who stress the importance of creating opportunities for regular, legal, migration may be advocating for opportunities that are inherently less accessible to those currently engaging in migration,” she wrote. “Increased moves to manage/regulate migration may unwittingly constrain mobility options for the poor.”

After examining data on workers moving to Thailand and Malaysia, Bylander noted that Cambodians migrating to Thailand are often from marginalised households, and usually emigrate without documents. Meanwhile, those heading to Malaysia generally have the economic and social capital to pay recruiters, and opt to obtain the necessary permits.

While the latter may seem preferable, that isn’t always the case, Bylander writes. For example, legal migration isn’t always safer. Legal status can sometimes bind workers to unscrupulous employers, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.

In Malaysia, where the majority of Cambodian migrants are women employed as domestic workers, numerous cases of abuse and exploitation have been documented.

But according to William Conklin, of NGO Solidarity Center, both irregular and regular migrants face a surfeit of obstacles. “To be able to afford to be sent to Malaysia requires money; you need to pay recruiters.

“So those workers are accruing debt,” he noted. “But if they are working in a construction site in Thailand, are . . . international standards being adhered to? In both countries, workers are at risk.


By: Cristina Maza, The Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 13 February 2017


Undocumented Cambodians to get legal status in Thailand

PHNOM PENH – Undocumented Cambodians who received migrant worker status cards after crossing illegally into Thailand are being advised to contact the embassy in Bangkok, which will help them legalise their position so they can get work.

Many Cambodians now find themselves in a grey area after having been issued with what are known as pink cards by Thai authorities. These give them migrant worker status, but are not enough to allow them to get a legal job, according to the Khmer Times.

The situation arose after the military coup in 2014, when large numbers of foreign workers were expelled.

Many Cambodians crossed back into Thailand illegally. Thai authorities created the pink cards as a way of normalising their presence, however the workers were left in employment limbo.

Cambodian and Thai government officials met to resolve the problem and a Cambodian government committee was set up to legalise the 231,626 undocumented Cambodian workers.

A ministry statement said on Tuesday: “The committee is ready to offer documents to workers following legal procedures required by Thai law.”

Heng Sour, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labour, said the undocumented workers were among one million Cambodians working in Thailand.

He confirmed that the undocumented workers had received migrant worker status cards from Thai authorities after they crossed illegally into Thailand to seek employment.

Cambodia’s Labour Ministry said undocumented workers should apply for travel documents from the embassy in Bangkok.

Workers need to pay 950 baht for the travel documents. These should be taken, along with 500 baht  and the pink card, to the Thai Immigration Department to apply for work permits.


By: Khmer Times, Bangkok Post

Published on: 26 January 2017

Myanmar warns migrant workers in Malaysia

Myanmar police officer searches a vehicle during a random security check at a check point near the landmark Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, on Sunday. Malaysian counter-terrorism police have warned of possible attacks by militants inspired by the so-called Islamic State due to the treatment of Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine State. (EPA photo)

YANGON/KUALA LUMPUR – Myanmar said on Monday it had sent out safety instructions to its workers in Malaysia after attackers hacked five of them to death with swords, weeks after it barred workers from going there, partly because of security fears.

Tension between the Southeast Asian neighbours has risen in recent months over the fate of Myanmar’s stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, with Malaysia accusing Myanmar of genocide over its treatment of them.

Last Thursday, four masked men wielding swords attacked Myanmar workers after they had left a factory in the Serdang district on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Five were killed and two wounded.

Malaysian police said seven Myanmar men had been detained shortly after the attack and they did not see any “religious motivations” behind it. They gave no more details.

Mostly Buddhist Myanmar stopped its workers going to Malaysia in December, after Najib Razak, prime minister of the predominantly Muslim country, described Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya as “genocide” and called for foreign intervention.

Labour-short Malaysia hosts about 147,000 Myanmar workers, according to Myanmar data.

The spokesman for the Myanmar president’s office, Zaw Htay, said safety instructions had been issued to Myanmar workers in Malaysia and illegal Myanmar workers there were urged to contact the embassy, state media quoted him as saying.

Myanmar was working with Malaysian authorities to investigate the attack and the ban on workers going to Malaysia would remain in force, he said.

Nyunt Win, deputy director general at Myanmar’s Labour, Immigration and Population Ministry, said security worries had been one reason for the ban on workers going to Malaysia.

“There are several reasons for the ban on Myanmar migrant workers going to Malaysia, including security concerns and the fact that they are trying to stir up political troubles against Myanmar,” Nyunt Win said. He did not elaborate.

Last week, Malaysia’s top counter-terrorism official told Reuters in an interview that Myanmar faced a growing danger of attacks by foreign supporters of Islamic State recruited from Southeast Asian networks in support of the Rohingyas.

Malaysian authorities detained a suspected IS follower planning to go to Myanmar to carry out attacks, the head of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said, adding that Myanmar targets outside Myanmar were also at risk.

Myanmar warns migrant workers in Malaysia

By: Reuters

Published on: 10 January 2017

Cambodia to grant 200,000 copies of travel documents to Cambodian migrant workers

The Cambodian government will grant 200,000 copies of travel documents to Cambodian migrant workers.

Employment Department Director General Arak Phrommanee said that most of the registered Cambodian workers have not received travel documents which could be used in lieu of a passport.

He discussed with Seng Sakda, the director general of the Cambodian Department of Labor and Heng Zur, the director general of the Cambodian Department of Finance and was advised that Cambodian government officials will visit Thailand and grant 200,000 copies of travel documents to Cambodian migrant workers.

The Cambodian officials suggested that the Thai Department of Employment collect the names of Cambodian migrant workers and check the receipts of the fee for the Thai documentation before submitting it to them. The copies of the travel documents are expected to be delivered in September.

By: National News Bureau of Thailand

Published on: 9 August 2016

Philippines and Cambodia to Protect Migrant Rights

In order to promote and protect the rights of migrants and migrant workers, Cambodia and the Philippines held their first bilateral round table meeting over migration earlier this week.
According to a joint statement released after the meeting and obtained by Khmer Times yesterday, migrants and migrant workers play an important role in the economic growth and development of both countries. The assurance and protection of migrant rights with legally-binding international and regional legislation will only strengthen the economies of Cambodia and the Philippines, it said.
The joint statement said part of the assistance to migrants must come from in-country consulates.
“As countries of origin, both sides shall promote mutual support and cooperation between their respective diplomatic and consular missions abroad and between the line ministries in charge of migrants and migrant workers temporarily or permanently residing abroad, including through capacity-building cooperation, regular consultation and exchange of views and best practices in addressing challenges encountered in relation to protection and promotion of migrants and migrant workers’ rights and welfare,” the statement said.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitments to those migrants most at risk of mistreatment, especially women and children suffering at the hands of human traffickers. The countries vowed to seek third-party or third-country help in the event they alone are unable to protect a worker’s rights.
Labor Ministry secretary of state Soeung Sarsochenda said that although the Cambodian government does not consider relying on migrant labor as the only path to long term economic-social development, the government has recognized that supporting migrant workers helps in the overall development of the Kingdom’s families and communities and also reduces country-wide poverty rates.
“Relating to labor migration, the government has been making efforts to educate and encourage workers who want to migrate to work abroad, to choose an appropriate means to do so in order to cut down the risks of human trafficking,” Ms. Sarsochenda said.
She added that the efforts to protect workers on the part of the country sending them was vital, but requires cooperation from the country receiving the workers to guarantee full protection.
“The Cambodian government welcomes and supports the initiative of the government of the Philippines to have a joint declaration to protect foreigners and migrated workers,” Ms. Sarsochenda added.
Jesus Yabes, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, said during the roundtable with Cambodia that the Philippines has been organizing four important processes in order to control migration, including the institution of an integration program for incoming migrants.
There are more than 620,000 Cambodians now working overseas.

By: Mom Kunthear, Khmer Times

Published on: 5 May 2016
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