Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hellish ordeal for fishermen to end

Hellish ordeal for fishermen to end

Hellish ordeal for fishermen to end

A group of seven Cambodian fishermen who suffered a harrowing ordeal as trafficked slaves on Thai and Malaysian fishing boats will be repatriated to the Kingdom on July 29.

The men jumped ship from their boats off the Malaysian coast in March and April after ordeals during which they said they were beaten, employed as slaves and force-fed drugs.

In one case, a member of the group reportedly witnessed crew members being shot at and tossed overboard for the amusement of a boat captain.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday the International Organisation for Migration was helping to repatriate the seven victims and had paid for their airline tickets.

“They were helped greatly by the IOM, government officials and the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia. They don’t have passports, but the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia is allowing them to come to Cambodia,” Koy Kuong said.

In a familiar story for victims of trafficking in the region, the men’s passports were seized by their respective captains after they were forced onto the boats, having paid a broker in Cambodia to secure them lucrative jobs on the Thai mainland.

After the seven men escaped the boats in two separate groups, they survived on meagre wages working in plywood factories in the Malaysian province of Sarawak.

They were finally rescued by Malaysian police during raids on the factories in May and June, but five other victims from the boats remain unaccounted for.

IOM project co-ordinator Bruno Maltoni said the rescued fishermen had been interviewed by the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia using forms from his organisation to screen trafficking victims.

“We co-ordinated; we received a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide support for the voluntary return of the seven fishermen,” Maltoni said yesterday.

Efforts to locate the men who have yet to be rescued were continuing, he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • 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