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Five underage girls removed from firm

Five underage girls were among 26 women removed from a labour recruitment firm yesterday evening by military police in the capital, with officials arresting two company employees and seeking the arrest of the firm’s owner.

Sen Sok district military police chief Kith Sophal said that police had arrested two employees at the Century (Cambodia) Manpower Company training centre in the district’s Teuk Thla commune, but the company owner had escaped.

“We are seeking to arrest the owner of the company,” he said. Kith Sophal added that five girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were removed from the training centre.

“We went to check in the Century (Cambodia) Manpower Company in cooperation with [NGO] Action Pour Les Enfants and we rescued 26 women, some of whom were cheated by the [company] broker in order to work in Malaysia as maids,” he said.

The girls told police that the broker had said they could work as maids in Malaysia by fabricating their age.

The legal working age for domestic workers in Cambodia is 18, but in Malaysia people seeking domestic work must be 21.

Kith Sophal said that 23 of those rescued wanted to return home because they found it difficult to live in the training centre.

“They told us that they don’t have freedom because they have to stay at the company, [where it is] confined and difficult to eat,” he said.

“We cannot allow the owner of the company to live freely,” Kith Sophal said, adding that the company was under investigation but police did not have the right to close or suspend it.

Khoem Vando, information officer at Action Pour Les Enfants, said that the NGO had received a complaint from the mother of a missing 14-year-old girl on August 28 and had cooperated with anti-human trafficking police to investigate the complaint.

“We investigated until we and officials went down to check at the company where we suspected that they were detaining underage girls,” he said.

All 26 women were being questioned by municipal police and officials were searching for their family members, Kith Sophal said.

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