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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Illegal migration ticking up

Illegal migration ticking up

Illegal migration ticking up

trafficked fishermen
Trafficked fishermen are repatriated to Cambodia in 2012 after escaping from slave-like conditions on Thai fishing vessels. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Illegall migration is on the rise, but human trafficking cases appear to be declining, according to the government’s annual labour migration report, released yesterday.

Speaking at the start of a three-day workshop held at the Ministry of Interior that involving embassies, NGOs and government officials, Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry admitted that much remained to be done to crack down on risky illegal migration.

“It is the responsibility of all authorities to ensure the safety of migrant workers, to eliminate risky migration, and to support the victims who work abroad and suffer from human trafficking,” she said.

More than 123,600 illegal migrant workers were repatriated to Cambodia in 2012; an increase of 4,825 from the previous year.

Nearly all of them came from Thailand, and the vast majority were men. Of those repatriated, 50,836 illegal workers were detained for at least one month before their repatriation to Cambodia. Working with local NGOs and aid agencies, the ministry identified 20 brokers responsible for the bulk of the illegal migration.

“Before, workers migrated to the countries which border Cambodia. Nowadays, even if the country is far, workers still make the risky migration, and it is more complicated to find a solution,” said Minister of Labour Vong Sot, adding that the ministry was seeking to establish memoranda of understanding with more countries.

Last year, illegal migrant labourers were repatriated from as far afield as Japan, South Africa and Fiji.  

Rights groups and economists have cautioned that limited job opportunities and insecure land tenure have increasingly pushed Cambodians to seek work in foreign countries. For human trafficking, the report recorded 133 cases in 2012, a decrease of 61 from the prior year. In total, 458 victims were rescued and 165 suspects arrested.

Lim Mony, deputy director of the woman’s monitoring section of rights group Adhoc, warned that the risks remained high for migrant workers, despite growing protections that have been put in place in recent years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]

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