Category Archives: Migration policy in Cambodia
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call on Tuesday to strengthen cooperation among ASEAN members to protect the rights of migrant workers echoed recent comments by rights groups who say further protections are necessary as the 2015 deadline for an integrated economic community looms.As that deadline approaches, an increase in regional labour flows has been accompanied by a steady stream of reports regarding large-scale human trafficking from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia into Thailand, and the abuse of Cambodian and Indonesian maids in Malaysia.
Sinapan Samydorai, president of NGO Think Centre and convener of a Singapore-based task force on ASEAN migrant workers, said a “new deal” is needed in which the rights of workers are enforced, laws and policies harmonised with international labour standards and social protections assured for workers and their families.
“ASEAN aims to evolve into an integrated economic community by 2015, but the challenge is to draft and agree to a legally binding ASEAN Framework Instrument on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers,” he added.
Assistant director of the ASEAN Social Welfare, Women, Labour and Migrant Workers division Mega Irena said the development of just such an instrument was “ongoing”.
At last year’s summit in Bali, leaders had tasked labour ministers to continue their work to implement the declaration, including a “phased approach in the development of the instrument, starting by focusing on issues which are comfortable to all ASEAN member states”, she said.
According to Irena, the 2007 Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of Migrant Workers “mandates ASEAN countries to promote fair and appropriate employment protection, payment of wages and adequate access to decent working and living conditions for migrant workers”.
It states that the obligations of sending and receiving states, as well as the commitment of ASEAN member countries.
Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand receive more labour than they send, while the reverse is true for Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos, according to the findings of the 2011 ADBI-OECD Conference on Labour Migration.
Bruno Maltoni, project coordinator at the International Organisation for Migration, said the declaration was a milestone.
“It is quite interesting to see migration slowly becoming a key item in the ASEAN agenda,” he said.
ASEAN would be increasingly involved as a regional body in supervising migration, he added.
“A few years ago, the negotiations and bilateral agreements were mostly on a one-to-one basis; in the future, ASEAN will probably be more involved on regional frameworks in order to guarantee an improvement of the labour migration management,” he said.
But other actors said ASEAN was moving too slowly to protect workers.
Advocacy officer of the Cambodian Working Group for Domestic Workers Natalie Drolet called the declaration “just a piece of paper that has not been put into practice”, as a framework had not been adopted to implement protections for workers.
This was a need that was becoming increasingly urgent as the establishment of the economic community would mean an increase in intra-regional migration, she said.
The possibility of trafficking and labour exploitation in the absence of proper protections was another concern raised by rights groups.
Samydorai said employment opportunities abroad were pushing governments to seek bilateral or regional agreements that would see more employed in neighbouring countries.
But the high costs and complex policies involved for job-seekers often forced many to become undocumented migrant workers vulnerable to abuse, he added.
By Cassandra Yeap
Published on 5 April 2012
A group of 20 Cambodian migrant workers have said they fled Thailand fearing arrest because recruitment firms sent them abroad with one-month visas when they had been promised two-year contracts.
Representatives of the workers, who returned on Friday night, said they were sent to a battery factory by Top Manpower – which is owned by the president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, An Bunhak – and another company they could not identify.
Ang Khun Ly, a worker from Kandal province, said he had paid US$300 to Top Manpower for the passport, which he was told would last two years, only to discover it was invalid after just one month of work.
“When I worked there, the company in Thailand needed to control my passport. They said that our passport were only valid for a one-month period. If we continue to work, we would be arrested. We were afraid of being arrested, so we came back,” he said.
Reached via email, An Bunhak yesterday denied his company had cheated anyone and said he would pursue legal action against those falsely accusing Top Manpower of wrongdoing.
“TOP Manpower has never sent workers to work so-called battery factory in Thailand. I would like request all workers who was abused or cheat to fill a complaint then we can find out who use our name,” the email read.
Hom Mut, a military chief in Beanteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said he was investigating the claims of the workers, who had all returned through the border town.
“They really came back from Thailand at Poipet border. They were in a panic but they have not yet filed a complaint to the military police,” he said.
By Sen David with additional reporting by David Boyle
Published 20 February 2012
Battambang provincial police detained four brokers and 51 migrant workers, including 19 minors, who were attempting to illegally cross into Thailand early yesterday morning, police said.
A group of would-be migrant workers wait at Battambang police station after being detained yesterday while attempting to illegally cross the Thai-Cambodian border with the help of four brokers.
At about 3am yesterday, police stopped the brokers, who were driving two vans crammed with the 51 villagers, mostly from Pursat province, attempting to illegally cross the border into Thailand without documentation, Battambang anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection director Koy Heang said.
“Investigating police hunted down the two trucks, because they were filled with people who looked strange, not like they were from Battambang, and when police detained them, they admitted they were trying to illegally cross into Thailand,” Koy Heang said.
He said the four brokers will be sent to court for questioning and charging tomorrow, and the 51 villagers attempting to cross the border illegally will be sent to the social affairs department for reeducation.
“So many of these victims are minors [under 18], and most paid the brokers between 2,000 and 3,000 baht [between US$65 and $98] for the crossing,” Koy Heang said, adding that all but one of the villagers, including the minors, had been told they would receive work in factories in Thailand.
One man was told he was going to be a farmer.
Adhoc provincial officer Prak Sophima said the villagers were victims of human trafficking.
“This is the first case this year in Battambang,” Prak Sophima said, adding that Battambang was a popular illegal border-crossing destination for people from many of the surrounding provinces.
“But when these victims cross into Thailand illegally without any documentation, they usually end up going to work somewhere else like Malaysia or Indonesia, and this is the reason that nowadays so many families complain to Adhoc about their missing children abroad,” he said.
“People put themselves at risk when they immigrate without enough information and they hurry to believe the broker’s lure.”
By Sen David
Published 9 February 2012
MORE than 20 human trafficking victims who were enslaved aboard a fishing boat that was intercepted 6,000 kilometres from Cambodia off the tiny island nation of Mauritius were repatriated on Saturday.
In what has become a disturbingly familiar story, the men reportedly told police they had been forced on to fishing boats in Thailand after being tricked by brokers into taking jobs in Cambodia’s western neighbour.
Seven victims who were repatriated in July after being tricked into slave labour aboard Thai fishing boats said they were beaten, forced to work almost without rest, force-fed drugs and had witnessed men thrown overboard.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said last Tuesday the latest group of 24 Cambodian victims was discovered aboard a boat that was intercepted on July 28 by Mauritian maritime authorities in the country’s territorial waters.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs intervened for them, and Ministry of Interior police now have a duty to catch the brokers,” he said.
The rescued men were reluctant to talk on Saturday, briefly appearing outside the Phnom Penh International Airport before they were rushed away by Anti-Human Trafficking Police.
Nang, 24, said he was happy to finally return after spending months stuck in a detention centre in Mauritius.
“I am delighted I could arrive and see my homeland. I was ordered to fish in Thailand and Mauritius. I don’t know. It was so much more difficult than I expected,” he said.
Chiv Phally, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said the men’s repatriation was an international operation that included police, government officials and the Internat-ional Organisation for Migration.
Anti-human trafficking police are now conducting interviews with all the rescued men and will begin searching for suspects along Cambodia’s border with Thailand.
Mouen Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Educat-ion Centre, said regional efforts to tackle the fishing boat slave labour trade had been little more than “benign propaganda”.
“I’m really upset with the . . . 10 ASEAN member countries, because if you look at the website of the ASEAN countries, they call it deterring human trafficking, but those countries still have some kind of reluctance to implement its provisions,” he said.
Mouen Tola said detailed information had been provided to the police about the location of farmers in Thailand who had trafficked some of the seven men repatriated in July, but nothing had been done to bring them to justice.
Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant with the rights group Licadho, said that once victims were trafficked on to boats, it was probably too late for any kind of systematic intervention, but authorities could crack down on brokers on the border if they had the will to do so.
Sen David and David Boyle
The Phnom Penh Post
Published 07 November 2011 12:04
Rights workers yesterday called for a labour recruitment firm to face suspension after five underage girls were reportedly discovered during a raid on one of its training centres in the capital on Tuesday.Officials said the underage girls were among 26 women removed from a Century (Cambodia) Manpower Co Ltd training centre in Sen Sok district’s Teuk Thla commune, following a complaint to NGO Action Pour Les Enfants in August by the mother of a missing 14-year-old girl. Two company employees were arrested and officials are now seeking the whereabouts of the firm’s owner.
The legal working age for domestic workers in Cambodia is 18, but people seeking domestic work in Malaysia must be 21. The underage girls told police that a company broker had told them they could work as maids in Malaysia by lying about their age.
Rights workers have reacted positively to the moves taken against the recruitment firm and yesterday called for further action.
“We need to see further examination of this company,” Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said. “We need to see the manager and the owner of the Century [Manpower] agency prosecuted.”
He added that while the search was a “positive” step by authorities, the firm should be suspended and its other training centres inspected.
“The lack of regular inspection and effective inspection is why we … hear about underage recruitment, falsifying documents and illegal confinement,” Moeun Tola said. “The police just sit and wait and they are only reactive, not proactive.”
Am Sam Ath, senior monitor for rights group Licadho, also said that the firm should face suspension and that its owner should be questioned.
“I think the authorities have to monitor this training centre and also the head company which is connected with the case,” he said, adding that officials and NGOs should continue to cooperate to address migrant worker abuses.
Officials could not say yesterday whether the firm would be suspended.
National military police spokesman, Kheng Tito, said that the municipal prosecutor yet to issue an order to shut down the company.
“The two company employees are being questioned and we don’t know yet whether they will be sent to the court or released,” he said.
While Chea Chouk, chief of the municipal anti-human trafficking military police, said that police were unsure whether a suspension would be ordered.
Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Labour Ministry, declined to comment yesterday but referred questions to Hem Bunny, director of the Ministry’s employment and manpower department, who could not be reached.
An Bunhak, director of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said that he was waiting on an official report from authorities regarding the case, but that the association would look into complaints about the training centre.
Labour recruitment firms in the Kingdom have come under increasing scrutiny over the course of the year following a raft of alleged abuses of Cambodian domestic workers, particularly in Malaysia, by their employers and the agencies that recruit them.
By Mom Kunthear and Mary Kozlovski
Published on October 06, 2011