Twenty-three Cambodian fishermen have been rescued in Mauritius, becoming the latest group of trafficked workers to have escaped illegal Thai operations, a Foreign Ministry statement said Saturday.
The government co-operated with Mauritian authorities to rescue the workers from a Thai boat that was fishing illegally off the coast of Mauritius, Koy Kuong, ministry spokesman, said in the statement.
The workers will be repatriated to Cambodia this week, said Chiv Phally, anti-human trafficking deputy director at the Interior Ministry, where officials “will ask them about the people they were involved with, their work and why they were cheated in order help us arrest the brokers or masterminds”.
Tens of thousands of Cambodian men illegally enter Thailand every year with the help of brokers who promise well-paying jobs. However, when they arrive, many are sold onto Thai fishing boats at gunpoint and forced to work as virtual slaves, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Cambodian Legal Education Centre.
There were 133 human trafficking cases of this kind in 2012, said a Labour Ministry report released last month.
Additional reporting by Kevin Ponniah