Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trapped fishermen returned

Trapped fishermen returned

Cambodian fishermen are escorted through Phnom Penh International Airport
Cambodian fishermen are escorted through Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday evening after they were repatriated from Brunei. Vireak Mai

Trapped fishermen returned

Seven Cambodian fishermen were repatriated from Brunei yesterday after they were allegedly sold into slavery by a Thai broker and imprisoned for illegally fishing in the sultanate’s territory.

Heoung Pol, 16, a migrant worker from Kampong Cham province, said after arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday that he travelled to Thailand to seek work.

After he arrived, the broker who promised him a job sold Pol and several other Cambodians to a Thai fishing captain, who ordered the men to fish off the coast of Malaysia before moving on to Brunei, where the group was arrested.

“We were in jail for two months in Brunei, because they accused us of crossing into their waters illegally. We did not mean to [break the law], we just followed the Thai boss’ orders,” he said.

Oung Heang, 36, from Siem Reap, said the captain hadn’t paid them since they were forced to join his expedition.

“In fact, I wanted to find a job as a worker in Thailand, but I was sold to be a fisherman until [we were arrested in] Brunei. We worked only at sea, we never reached land. And we would work throughout the whole day and night.”

Oum Chan, 25, from Kampong Cham province, said he had hoped to save money to send back to his family by working in Thailand.

“We expected to work abroad with much money left over to send to my family in my homeland. But we got nothing, and we were also arrested and put in jail for two months. It was the worst time in my life,” he said.

Chan Srey, 48, Pol’s mother, said that her son had been missing for nearly two years.

“Now I don’t care if he has earned money or not. I am so happy, because I waited for him for nearly two years.”

Koy Kuong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the Cambodian Embassy in Brunei and the Red Cross had assisted in the repatriation.


  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all