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Fishermen await repatriation

Fishing boats docked at a port in southern Thailand, where trafficked Cambodian fishermen are frequently put on fishing trawlers. Reuters

A GROUP of six Cambodian men who were trafficked onto Thai fishing boats have been detained in Indonesia and are awaiting repatriation, Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

Cambodian embassy officials in Indonesia had met with the men, who were being held on the island of Ambon, and assessed they were victims of human trafficking, Koy Kuong said.

“Now the Cambodian embassy in Jakarta is working closely with the concerned parties like the Indonesian authorities, the [International Organisation for Migration] and others to assist them to come back home as soon as possible,” he said.

On Tuesday, the news website antaranews reported that Ambon immigration office spokesman Enang Supriyadi had said the men had reluctantly handed themselves in to immigration officials on Saturday, after being dismissed from a Thai fishing boat several weeks prior.

The men were being held in a detention facility in Ambon City, because they did not possess legal immigration documents, antaranews reported Enang Supriyadi as saying.

Last month, 65 Cambodian men were rescued in Indonesia after reportedly suffering abuse as forced labourers on Thai fishing boats. All but five of the men have since been repatriated.

Yesterday, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police department, Chiv Phally, said police had identified brokers responsible for trafficking some of the men.

“After investigating for a few weeks, we now know the identity of the brokers, but we cannot release [this information]. We’re afraid they will escape,” he said.

The remaining five Cambodian men who had yet to be repatriated will be brought home early next month, he said.

“IOM and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are preparing documents to facilitate [their] return. IOM told me that they are checking for money to pay for their return,” he said.



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