Category Archives: Arrest, Detention and Deportation

Thailand to Kick Out Children Of All Illegal Migrants By 2020

Migrant workers who were prevented from sneaking into Thailand eat food provided by the International Organization for Migration in Poipet City in 2014. (Alex Consiglio/The Cambodia Daily)

In a move activists fear could endanger thousands of Cambodian children, Thailand plans to reduce the number of children of illegal migrants living in the country to zero by 2020, according to a newspaper report.

Thailand is the top destination for Cambodians seeking work abroad, with the Thai Ministry of Labor tallying 681,571 laborers in November 2014, most of whom lack full documentation.

Waranont Pitiwan, deputy permanent secretary at the Labor Ministry, told The Bangkok Post that the government was planning several measures to reduce the more than 118,000 children who came with their parents from Cambodia, Laos and Burma to work in the informal Thai labor market.

The measures include “ending the registration of illegal migrant workers” in favor of one-to-one agreements with individual countries, forcing migrants home at the end of their contracts, encouraging birth control among migrants and curbing illegal migration itself, the newspaper reported.

The Labor Ministry and Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to requests for comment.

Cambodian migrant activists said the new rules would further endanger an already vulnerable population.

“So far, children of migrants do not have access to school,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labor rights group Central. “It’s very dangerous for them, because children are kept in the house or dorms while their parents are going to work.”

“They are still human beings,” he added. “Children should be supported.”

CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, who heads the party’s migrant outreach efforts, said that there already are “tremendous social implications for these families.”

“If their parents are undocumented, they live in fear. No school, no social services,” she said, calling for Thailand to sign and enforce a U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights convention protecting migrant workers, and for the Cambodian government to ensure their protection.

“The worse scenario is when the children must flee or are deported,” she said.

When hundreds of thousands of Cambodians fled Thailand in 2014 due to fears of violence there, children’s NGO World Vision said that many children became separated from their families in the chaos.

“Any child who is living away from their home community or family becomes more vulnerable…[to] all kind of abuse and violence, as well as the long term effects created by shifts in their education, changes to their social safety nets, and legal insecurity,” wrote Steve Cook, the organization’s advocacy manager.

Mr. Tola, of Central, said the Thai government’s moves were unlikely to deter workers who could not rely on relatives at home to care for their children.

“The migrant workers understand clearly that it is not a good idea,” he said. “It’s not safe for the children at all, but they have no choice.”


By: Ben Paviour,  The Cambodian Daily

Published on: 18 November 2016

7 Myanmar migrants arrested in Songkhla’s Sadao district

Border patrol police and administrative officials early Saturday morning rounded up seven undocumented Myanmar migrants at a para-rubber plantation in Songkhla’s Sadao district.

The migrants were temporarily staying there pending a labour agent transporting them to Malaysia, authorities said.

At about 1am Saturday, officials, led by Sadao district clerk Napol Pahumanto, arrested the migrants at a shack at the plantation in Tambon Sanak Kham. One migrant escaped.

An arrested migrant identified only as Mia, 30, told officials that the group was brought to the plantation by a labour agent who had not charged them to take them to Malaysia to work.

The migrants were brought to Sadao Police Station before being deported.

By: The Nation
Published on: 24 September 2016

Illegal workers face major crackdown

Government panel to set up new anti-trafficking centres on three borders.

IN A BID to counter the problem of illegal migrants, foreign workers without permits face the prospect of mass arrests and large fines, Arak Prommanee, head of the Labour Ministry’s Employment Department, said yesterday.

The Committee on Foreign Workers and Human Trafficking Resolution Policies, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, resolved yesterday to push for facilitation centres and guidelines for “alien” workers to cut the number of illegal workers without proper papers.

In the meeting yesterday at the Ministry of Labour, Prawit encouraged the panel and concerned agencies to dissolve ineffective registration processes and verify the legal status of smuggled workers. He said the issue of illegal foreign workers affected national security.

The committee was set up following NCPO order no 73/2014 with Prawit as a chair, the Armed Forces Supreme Commander Sommai Kaotira and the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Labour ML Puntrik Smiti as deputy chiefs. It aims to crack down on people trafficking and illegal foreign labour.

According to Arak, the committee agreed to have a subcommittee study six resolutions:

shortcuts in the registration process that workers can take without having to wait for a health certificate (which can be a slow process);

guidelines to track registered workers’ homes and jobs;

a new version of work permits that shows jobs and areas of residence;

the International Labour Organisation’s work on fishing convention no 188;

new remand centres in Tak, Sa Kaeo and Nong Khai provinces to prevent human trafficking;

and worker service centres which have non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and private sectors involvement.

The director-general said to crack down on illegal labour, the ministry needs to take aggressive action. Workers without work permits will be jailed and made to pay a large fine. He said the ministry had tried to intensify punishment of employers who hire illegal labourers as well.

He said the ministry had to further study the possibility of easing the regulation that prohibits foreign workers taking some jobs.

Currently, there are 39 “skilled” jobs such as cooks, hairdressers, sellers and service sector work that Cambodian, Myanmar and Lao workers cannot do, Arak said. But many illegal workers do these jobs, he said, a key reason for the large number of illegal workers.

However, he said, the ministry would not jump to the conclusion that there was demand for foreign workers in prohibited jobs, adding the regulation would be maintained for now.

Arak also said in response to scandals over illegal workers bribing police to work without papers, police were responsible for the issue and the ministry would not interfere.

The ministry could only ask for police and concerned parties to cooperate and crack down on non-registered workers. It was the police’s business to deal with people who had been arrested, he said.

By: Juthathip Lucksanawong, The Nation
Published on: 14 June 2016

81 Cambodian migrants arrested in Sa Kaeo

SA KAEO — A police-military unit in Aranyaprathet district have rounded up 81 illegal Cambodian migrant workers who claim they were looking for jobs after their hometowns were hit by drought.
The Cambodians were apprehended while hiding in a forest near a temple in Khlong Tan Chan sub-district on Wednesday morning. The group comprised 36 men, 28 women and 17 children. None of them had travel documents, Daily News quoted Lt Col Somjate Ponprasert of the 12th Rangers Regiment, who is head of the arresting team.
Jiam Suam, leader of the migrants, told officers he and others in the group were from Cambodia’s Siem Reap province. Their hometown was hit hard by drought, making it impossible for them to farm. They then decided to walk across the Thai–Cambodian border through Khao Doi Tao in Khlong Hat district on Tuesday night, and went on to the adjacent town of Aranyaprathet on foot.
Mr Jiam Suam claimed he and his compatriots wanted to find jobs from Aranyaprathet residents and send money back to their families.
By: Bangkok Post
Published on: 11 May 2016

Trafficking victims rescued from Thai vessel

More than 50 trafficking victims are set to return to Cambodia after their Thai fishing boat was intercepted when it illegally crossed into Indonesian waters last month.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry yesterday said 54 Cambodian nationals were arrested on April 12 and detained in Pontianak, Indonesia. “The Indonesian authorities considered those workers victims of human trafficking and not perpetrators,” Sounry said.

One of the victims, Seak Leng, from Prey Veng province, said in an interview that he migrated to Thailand on January 4 in search of work, but was cheated by a broker and sold to an illegal Thai fishing boat. Leng described slave-like conditions, saying he was forced to work day and night, given insufficient food and not paid a cent.

The victims managed to hide a cellphone and last week made contact with Yi Vong, a relative to five of the imprisoned victims. Vong then reached out to human rights groups and Cambodian authorities for help.

Leng said embassy officials were now assisting with passports and plane tickets to bring the victims home.

“In two or three weeks more, we might be able to return to Cambodia,” Leng said from prison. “I want to give advice to all Cambodian people; please not to cross the border illegally as I did, because when they arrested us, we found it difficult to return home.”

Sem Chausok, a human rights observer at Licadho, said 500 victims had been rescued from similar trafficking schemes in the past three years, adding that lack of work in Cambodia pushed people to migrate, making them vulnerable to exploitation.

By: The Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 2 May 2016

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