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Labour firm accused of illegal detainment

A woman in Kratie province has accused the Philimore labour recruitment agency of unlawfully detaining her daughter in Malaysia more than three months after the conclusion of her contract, in a complaint filed with the rights group Adhoc.

Buth Saroeun, the mother of 29-year-old Vong Heang, said yesterday that her daughter had made repeated distress calls saying she was still being detained by Philimore in Malaysia despite finishing a three-year contract with the company in December last year.

“My daughter called me and told me she stays in the agency after she finished contract to be a maid, and I don’t know why they prevented my daughter from coming back home,” she said.

Buth Saroeun said she filed a complaint on March 18 with her local Adhoc branch in Kratie province, despite attempts by Philimore to persuade her not do so. She said she had grown weary of assurances from the company that her daughter’s return was imminent.

But Lao Lyhok, co-director of Philimore, said Vong Heang’s return to Cambodia had been delayed because her passport had expired and vowed to have her back in Cambodia by early next week.

“The maid arrived in our office in Malaysia on [March 7, 2011]. After she arrived we found that the passport was expired,” he said.

“That’s why we took the passport to extend it. I think it is almost extended already. I don’t know what the problem is on the Malaysian side.”

Thim Narin, provincial coordinator of Adhoc’s Kratie office, said she was preparing documents to persuade Philimore to send Vong Heang back to Cambodia as quickly as possible.

“The family of the woman is worried about the woman’s health because her health is not good,” he said.

Lao Lyhok denied Vong Heang was suffering from medical problems but expressed his deep sorrow for the delay in her return.

In august last year the mother of 24-year-old Nun Phar, who claimed to have been overworked in Malaysia to the point where she became pale, thin and stopped menstruating, dropped legal action against Philimore in exchange for US$707.

In September a 27-year-old former domestic worker sent to Malaysia in March 2010 after completing training at Philimore, said that when she complained of being beaten and deprived of food and sleep, a representative of the firm said only that the employer “would not beat me to death”.

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