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Labour firm staff sentenced

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The director and employees of a maid recruitment agency were handed sentences of up to five years by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday and ordered to pay compensation for illegally detaining an under-aged girl.

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Presiding judge Duch Kimsorn said Century Manpower’s director Oung Sakirin, chief of administration Sao Syneng, 27, and marketing manager Ngeth Sotheara, 28, were sentenced to three years for illegal detention. Broker Cheab Vannaraen, 27, was sentenced to five years for unlawful removal with purpose, he added.

The court also ordered them to jointly pay US$2,000 compensation to the 14-year-old victim, Tak Thon.

Chum Chanika, military police officer at the office of anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection in Phnom Penh, said the group was arrested in October after Tak Thon’s mother complained.

Tak Thon previously testified that she had been locked with a dozen other girls at the company’s training centre in Phnom Penh and prevented from leaving when she changed her mind about going to Malaysia.

The company had also attempted to apply for a passport for her under a fake name and date of birth since she was under-age, she said.

When the attempts had failed, she was brought to apply as a maid at another company but had not been accepted because of her age.

She then worked for Cheab Vannaraen’’s mother as a cleaner for four days, before escaping to meet up with her mother.

Nuon Phanith, Tak Thon’s lawyer, applauded the verdict but questioned why the court had not issued an arrest warrant for Oung Sakirin, who was sentenced in absentia.

“I think that the court’s punishment against these people ... is justice for my client. But I was not pleased that the court has not issued a warrant to arrest the company’s director to bring him to serve his jail term,” he told the Post.

Ya Nayuth, executive director of migrant workers NGO CARAM, said many recruitment agencies were being sued by their workers but such cases were mostly still being processed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at kongkea.buthreaksmey@phnompenhpost.com

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