Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cross-border workers gather yesterday to protest the closing of small border checkpoints to enter Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo supplied
Cross-border workers gather yesterday to protest the closing of small border checkpoints to enter Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo supplied

Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cambodian workers on Saturday protested against the closing of unofficial border checkpoints in Banteay Meanchey, while hundreds of undocumented workers continued to return from Thailand through the official checkpoint in Poipet.

Villagers in Chambark cross the border to Thailand for work at Boeng Beng commune’s unofficial checkpoint in Malai district and return to Cambodia in the evening. But borders in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang were closed on July 7 after an announcement from the Interior Ministry.

Villager Duong Chiv, from Preah Netr Preah district, said he had been working in Thailand since his farmland was destroyed by a drought three years in a row. He said he needed to pay back a loan he had taken up to buy farm equipment. “I can earn about $7 to $9 per day by working on the corn and cassava plantations [in Thailand]. My family depends on my work in Thailand,” Chiv said.

Another villager, Theang Hoeun, 43, said Thai landowners depended on Cambodians crossing at Boeng Beng. “Thai farmers take 200 to 300 people per day . . . with the recognition of the border police,” she said.

But Si Chheang, commune deputy border police chief, said he could only reopen the checkpoint upon orders from the provincial level.

“We have the duty to protect the security and safety of the people along the border. The closure of the border passage is not at our discretion,” he said.

The borders were closed after a law was passed in Thailand that introduced stiff fines and prison sentences for undocumented workers, their employers and brokers. Undocumented workers can face fines of up to $3,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. The Thai government suspended the implementation of the new punishments until the end of the year.

And while the unofficial crossings in Banteay Meanchey remained closed, Cambodian migrant workers continued to return.

Sin Namyong, a Poipet border police officer, said 403 migrants returned on Friday, 382 on Saturday and 115 as of yesterday afternoon, bringing the total to more than 7,200.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday introduced a health checkpoint at the Poipet migrant transit centre. During a visit, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said the centre would “provide free first aid treatment” for returning migrants, as well as “vaccinations for kids who had not received them while in Thailand”.

The deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, Yim Verak, on Friday said the Cambodian government would set up four centres in Thailand “to legalise undocumented workers”, but did not say where.

Additional reporting by Yon Sineat

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all

  • Ex-RFA journos accuse outlet

    Two former Radio Free Asia journalists held a press conference yesterday claiming they are each owed $28,000 by the US-funded radio broadcaster, which shuttered its in-country operations in September amid a government crackdown on independent media. The journalists, Sok Ratha and Ouk Savborey, maintained they organised