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Migrant workers leave Phnom Penh airport
Migrant workers leave Phnom Penh airport yesterday after they were repatriated from Malaysia. Heng Chivoan

Migrants repatriated

After harrowing experiences working in slave-like conditions, seven Cambodians returned home yesterday.

All seven appeared to have escaped before being arrested by the Malaysian government and held by authorities, accused of crossing into that country illegally to work, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said.

“They were being detained and accused of working illegally in Malaysia,” he said of the three men working as fishermen and four women working as maids.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia cooperated with the International Organization for Migration.”

The seven repatriated Cambodians are from Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap and Kratie provinces, Kuong said.

Deng Tola, 28, of Banteay Meanchey, ended up in Malaysia after seeking work as a fisherman in Thailand, he said.

Tola said that his broker sold him to the ship’s owner, who forced him and the rest of the crew to work in terrible conditions.

“We had to work the entire day, fishing the sea from Thailand to Malaysia; this is when we were near the port,” Tola said. “We escaped and found the Malaysian police, but they arrested us because we did not have passports.”

The Thai trafficker should be arrested, said Lim Mony of rights group Adhoc.

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