THIRTY-FOUR Cambodian labourers have been arrested in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province for illegal immigration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday.
Koy Kuong said officials from the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok were attempting to get in touch with Thai officials and prepare a full report on the case.
“They say it’s very difficult to meet with the Thai authorities right now,” Koy Kuong said.
Dy Phan, director of the Cambodian-Thai border communication office, said Monday that he had been in contact with Thai immigration police who told him that the workers were receiving treatment at a “mental health centre” in Samut Sakhon after Thai police freed them from a meat
processing plant where they had been abused by their employers.
“Thai police have not sent them back yet because they are important witnesses in their case against the owner of the factory,” Dy Phan said. “Thai authorities have issued a warrant to arrest the factory owner, and they promised to send the Cambodian workers back to Cambodia this week, but they did not specify a day.”
Koy Kuong said he could not confirm any of this information, having not yet received a full report from colleagues in Thailand.
“They say wait until they have the information,” he said.
Thai officials could not be reached for comment.
A total of 124,902 Cambodians were legally registered to work in Thailand as of February, according to Thailand’s ministry of labour, though rights workers say there are many thousands more who are undocumented.
Human Rights Watch released a report in February alleging that migrants in Thailand, including thousands of Cambodians, frequently face abuse and extortion from employers and local officials in Thailand.