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Cambodia and Qatar to form labour watchdog

Cambodia's next step in allowing workers such as maids and builders to travel to Qatar will be to create a committee with the Arab state to ensure their safety is protected, a senior labour official said yesterday.

The Senate on Wednesday supported an agreement between the two countries that should clear the way for Cambodians to travel to Qatar to work in a variety of industries.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said the two countries would form a committee to examine the conditions Cambodian migrant workers will face in Qatar.

“[This] committee, which has officials from Cambodia and Qatar, will discuss safety, risks to employees, the types of jobs Cambodians can fill, how many workers should be sent and which firms will be eligible to send workers,” he said.

The welfare of Cambodian migrants has been in the spotlight since the government put a ban on allowing women to travel to Malaysia as maids following a series of abuse cases.

A long-awaited memorandum of understanding between Cambodia and Malaysia is yet to materialise.

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program, said the government could learn a lot from the treatment of Cambodian maids in Malaysia when implementing the agreement.

“The government has to be careful,” he said. “Firstly, there is the question of the quality of this [agreement] and then there is the question of the implementation.”

Tola said Cambodia needed a strong body of labour experts in its embassy in Doha to monitor workers’ conditions.

“There should be regular inspections,” Tola said. “They should be carried out once every month or once every two months, and monitors’ reports should be available to civil society and made public.”

The government should also consider the types of workers sent to Qatar, he added.

“Unskilled workers and less knowledgeable migrant workers often pick up the high-risk jobs,” he said. “Those people should be given the opportunity to get jobs [in Cambodia].”

An Bunhak, chairman of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at
Shane Worrell at



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