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Woman, 64, charged with trafficking girl

BATTAMBANG provincial court yesterday  remanded a woman in custody after charging her with trafficking a mentally disabled 13-year-old girl to work in Malaysia.

Provincial Police Chief Sar Thet said Lay Heang, 64, was arrested at her home in Chamkar Samrong commune, in Battambang district, on Wednesday.

He said the suspect took the 13-year-old girl to Malaysia after forging documents giving her a pseudonym and claiming she was 19 years of age.

Thol Yothea, section police chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection office, said the woman was arrested following an investigation sparked by a tip from an NGO.

“We launched our investigation after receiving a complaint from World Vision in November, telling us that the victim was illegally sent to work in Malaysia while she was still 13 years old,” he said.

The alleged victim disappeared from her home five years ago and spent some time in Phnom Penh before being sent to Malaysia to work, Thol Yothea said.

The girl’s employers allegedly sent her back to Cambodia three months after she arrived in Malaysia, when they realised that she was a minor and not in a fit state to be working.

Under Cambodian law, migrant workers must be at least 18 years old before leaving the country.

Thol Yothea said police had also submitted to the court documents accusing a recruitment company of involvement in the girl’s trafficking, but that the firm’s director had not been summonsed
or charged.

“The company was also involved with sending the victim to work in Malaysia by forging documents,” he said.

“We don’t know why the court didn’t charge the company director, as we had already submitted the report.”

He said police would continue investigating and gather more evidence against the company if ordered by the court.

The alleged victim has been sent to Battambang social affairs department. If convicted, the suspect could face up to 20 years in prison.

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