Yearly Archives: 2010

Abused maid returns home to her family, Phnom Penh Post

A WOMAN from Kampot province who claimed her employer physically abused her while she was working as a maid in Malaysia has returned to Cambodia after her sister sought intervention from police and rights groups. Tep Sophy said her half sister, 20-year-old Ly Soben, arrived home safely last Tuesday. But Tep Sophy said she was unhappy that her family dropped their lawsuit against the agency that sent her sister abroad. Kea Sophal, a lawyer for rights group Adhoc, said Ly Soben dropped the charge after the firm paid her US$6,000 in compensation.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010 15:00 Phak Seangly

Thai nationals set to walk free, Phnom Penh Post

Three Thai nationals jailed on immigration charges are set to walk free after receiving a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday.

On December 9, Siem Reap provincial court convicted the three men of illegal entry and unlawful possession of weapons, sentencing them each to 18 months jail.

Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53 – all from Surin province’s Sangkhla district – were arrested on August 18 by authorities in Oddar Meanchey province.

Their reprieve came after a meeting in Phnom Penh between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday.
Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said the three men had been released into the custody of visiting Thai officials, in accordance with a pardon signed by the King yesterday.

“We picked them up from Siem Reap [and brought them] to Phnom Penh this morning,” Heng Hak said.

The Bangkok Post quoted Kasit as saying after the meeting that the three men are expected to return to Thailand today, accompanied by Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Kasit, who arrived in Phnom Penh for a two-day visit on Sunday, also met with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, yesterday.

New migrant regulations

Following the meeting, Hor Namhong told reporters that Thailand had agreed to reopen until 2012 a registration process for migrant labourers that will allow tens of thousands of Cambodian workers currently at risk of deportation to remain in Thailand legally.

The Thai government had previously set a February 2010 deadline for migrant workers to apply for a process known as “nationality verification”, which would allow them to
renew their work permits.

As a result, some 43,301 Cambodian migrants who had been working legally but failed to register for the verification process prior to the deadline faced the possibility of deportation, according to figures provided by the Human Rights and Development Foundation, a Bangkok-based rights group.

Cambodian officials estimated that more than 90,000 Cambodian workers had missed the February registration deadline.

More than 1,000 Cambodian workers were arrested and detained in June for missing the deadline, after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva authorised a crackdown on June 2. Thai officials said in October that they were considering reopening the registration process because of the “backlog” of workers who missed the deadline.

Hor Namhong said yesterday that he and Kasit had also discussed a recent rash of arrests and shootings of Cambodian nationals by Thai border guards, and agreed that Thailand would be more lenient toward Cambodian trespassers.

“I requested that from now on [Thai soldiers] stop using violence or shooting and that if [Cambodians] commit wrongdoing, just arrest them and take legal action,” Hor Namhong said. “[Kasit] promised to do so.”

However, six Cambodians were reportedly injured when Thai border troops fired on them for logging valuable hardwood in Thai territory close to the border with Oddar Meanchey last week.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said there have been six separate shooting incidents this year involving Thai troops and Cambodians, including five in which people were killed and one in which a person disappeared.

20 December 2010 20:16 Cheang Sokha

Rights Groups Call for Better Protection for Refugees, Irrawaddy

More than 20 community-based organizations called for better protection for Burmese refugees who are on Thai soil due to clashes between Burmese government troops and breakaway Karen rebels on the Thai-Burmese border.

The rights groups also released an appeal letter to international governments calling for more support to refugees on Thai soil who fear to return to their homes in an area where fighting has  broken out repeatedly since Nov. 8, one day after the Burmese general election.

According to intelligence sources with the rebel  Karen National Union (KNU), the Burmese regime is reinforcing its troops in Palu village in Myawaddy Township and more fighting is expected.

Five people reportedly have died and at least 27 have been injured, according to rights groups, since the most recent fighting broke out.

Many villagers have repeatedly fled  to safety in Thailand, while others have gone into hiding in the jungle.

On Nov. 8, during the conflict in Myawaddy Township on the  border opposite Thailand’s Mae Sot, more than 25,000 refugees sought temporary shelter on Thai soil. The refugees were forced by the Thai army to return home the following day, however.

Due to repeated conflicts, some 10,000 refugees in Three Pagodas Pass and about 2,500 from Waw Lay village also fled separately to other parts of Thailand in Tak Province. Hundreds of villagers are still being displaced on the Thai-Burma border along the Moei River, said the rights groups.

The letter, signed by Dr. Cynthia Maung, the founder of Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, said  that there is a strong likelihood of continued or increased armed conflicts not only in Karen State but also in other ethnic areas along the border.

The letter  called for a concrete plan for Thai authorities and nongovernmental organizations to provide the necessary protection and assistance to a civilian population fleeing armed conflicts until it is determined that it is safe for them to return home.

The umbrella group also called on the Burmese government to ease all hostilities and provocative actions against ethnic communities and to engage in tripartite dialogue with ethnic and opposition representatives.

In the Thai parliament, Kraisak Choonhavan, the director of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), said, “I am deeply concerned about the situation of these refugees on Thai soil. According to information received, the provision of humanitarian aid and the process of repatriation of recent refugees from Burma do not abide by international humanitarian and human rights standards.”

Despite the Thai government’s statements that there will be no enforced repatriation of refugees until the situation stabilizes, it has been reported that refugees in Mae Sot and Pop-Phra, in Tak Province, have been pressured by the Thai Army to return to Burma and were told that the fighting has ended, according to a statement released by the AIPMC on Dec.  8.

By SAW YAN NAING     Monday, December 13, 2010

Safety fears for illegal worker in Malaysia, Phnom Penh Post

A WOMAN from Kampot province said yesterday that she has filed complaints with police and rights groups after receiving a phone call from her 20-year-old sister who claims she is being physically abused by a 70-year-old employer while working illegally as a domestic aid in Malaysia.

Tep Sophy said she had appealed to provincial and immigration police as well as rights groups Licadho and Adhoc to intervene after talking with her distraught sister, Ly Soben, on Sunday.

“I am very concerned about my sister’s situation,” she said, adding that she had heard horror stories of other young domestic workers being abused abroad, one of whom died.

“This makes me so worried about my sister and I rushed to seek an intervention,” she said.

As well as asking officials to help repatriate her sister, Tep Sophy said she plans to sue a Phnom Penh-based broker who she claims was responsible for sending Ly Soben to work abroad illegally through an unlicensed broker.

Tep Neang, provincial deputy police chief, said he had received a complaint from Tep Sophy on Tuesday morning.

“We will cooperate with the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection police to investigate the case,” he said, adding that authorities would decide whether it was necessary to involve Malaysian officials after first attempting to verify Tep Sophy’s allegations.

“This is just what she claimed,” he said. “We did not totally believe her because we did not meet the victim.”

Ngeth Soseng, provincial Licadho coordinator, said Tep Sophy had reported the case to her office on Monday, and that she had spoken briefly with the alleged victim by phone before the line was cut.

Thursday, 09 December 2010 15:02 Phak Seangly
“I managed to speak with her just in short. She sounds piteous,” she said.

Sick migrant workers eye home, Phnom Penh Post

About 50 legal Cambodian migrant workers were set to return home from Thailand today after becoming ill while working at a refrigerated seafood packing factory in Songkla province.

Hay Diep, 43, of Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said two of his children were among the returned workers, who asked that they be allowed to return after the excessively low working temperatures caused them to become sick.

“We contacted our children about their work and they told us that it was cold and that they couldn’t stand it, asking to come back,” Hay Diep said. He said he did not know the name of the factory.

Hay Diep said that according to his children, several hundred Cambodians were legally employed at the factory, but the returned workers were recent arrivals who had been employed for less than one month.

His children gained work at the factory through the CCM labour agency in Poipet, he said, and were promised 9,000 baht (US$298) per month, plus 30 baht per additional hour of overtime.

“I rang my children when they got fever,” said Hay Diep, a Kampong Cham native who has been living in Poipet for more than 10 years. “The employer gave them medicine, but my children remained sick, so I asked for help from the authorities.”

Initially, the factory authorities, who were holding the workers’ passports, wanted them to stay on. They eventually relented, however, and allowed them to return.

A Cambodian official at the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations Office in Poipet, who intervened in the case, said his office received a complaint from Hay Diep’s family on Monday, asking for help in the return of their children.

“We contacted the company and asked them to allow the workers’ return,” said the official, who declined to be named. He added that while the management of the factory was initially reluctant, they soon agreed to send the workers back.

The Phnom Penh office of the CCM labour agency could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 19:57 Cheang Sokha

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