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Migrants freed after deportation

STUNG Treng province officials released 19 Cambodians who were deported from Laos last week, and the man accused of attempting to smuggle them into Thailand has been sent to the provincial court for investigation, officials said yesterday.

Sun Leang, chief of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, said the 19 would-be migrant workers, who each paid the broker 50,000 riels (US$11.80) to ensure their safe passage, were re-educated before their release.

He added that a further seven Cambodians remained on the run and had perhaps already made it to Thailand. “Cambodian and Lao authorities are searching for them to bring back to Cambodia,” he said.

He said provincial officials arrested a broker allegedly engaging in similar practices earlier in the month, along with another in May. He added that he believed migrants were increasingly being routed through Laos in response to steeper bribes charged by officials at the Poipet crossing in Banteay Meanchey province.

“Now, most people change their behaviour when crossing the border,” he said. “Before, they travelled through Poipet, but they have to spend more money.”

Hou Sam Ol, provincial monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said the 19 Cambodians likely had no other employment options apart from those
in Thailand, and called on officials to create more jobs in Cambodia.

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