Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fishing ‘slave’ hits screens

Fishing ‘slave’ hits screens

People watch a documentary film on exploited Cambodian fisherman
People watch a documentary film on exploited Cambodian fisherman yesterday in Phnom Penh at a Counter Trafficking in Persons Program event. Kimberley McCosker

Fishing ‘slave’ hits screens

It has been two years since Ky Pheakdey returned to his home in Kampot province after three years working without pay on a Taiwanese fishing boat owned by Giant Ocean International.

He tells his story in a short documentary, The Giant Ocean Case: Challenges in Securing Justice for Exploited Fisherman, previewed yesterday. The documentary is the second film attempt by US-based nonprofit Winrock International to underscore the gaps in global accountability and motivate policymakers to curb human trafficking.

“The situation has not improved noticeably over the past several years,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “The numbers of those assisted are still in the dozens, while the numbers who are trafficked onto fishing boats ranges into the thousands.”

In the three years since the UN launched an investigation into the exploitation of fisherman by Giant Ocean, Cambodia has been the only country to issue a jail sentence against someone indicted in these sorts of trafficking abuses.

This April, after an appeal, Lin Li-Chen, general manager of the Taiwanese company, was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and compensate 127 victims on charges of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

The one “appreciable change”, Robertson said, has been the ability of more NGOs and international organisations to respond to calls for help from trafficking victims.

But 24-year-old Pheakdey has yet to see any compensation, while government actions in Cambodia and internationally have yet to curb the growing number of men trafficked to fishing boats each year, experts said yesterday. In addition, there has been zero accountability from those who drive the export market.

Poverty, meanwhile, remains a crushing element for those who are assisted and waiting for compensation according to Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at CLEC.

“Victims are quite poor in the community, that is why they decide to migrate,” he said.

“Of course, this is frustrating, because they have waited for so long to be compensated,” Sara Piazzano of Winrock International-CTIP, said at the screening. “But the verdict is important to them psychologically – to know, finally, ‘I was right and this was wrong’”.

Vichuta Ly, founder of Legal Support for Children and Women, said that moving forward, more evidence is required to hold the responsible parties accountable in the Giant Ocean case, as five people indicted in the lawsuit have not been punished. However, in June, the case will be brought to the prosecutor in Taiwan in hopes of compensation, she explained. “It may take more time, but we are started now,” Ly said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY PECH SOTHEARY

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially