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Enslaved Cambodians on their way home

A group of 19 Cambodians enslaved on Thai fishing boats will arrive home on Sunday, a month after being rescued by Indonesian authorities.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Koung said they had been issued with entry permits as they didn’t have passports.

He said the men had been cheated by brokers and rescued when the Thai boats were caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters.

The men’s repatriation comes after the Thai government yesterday pledged to step up efforts to tackle human trafficking, with the country’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, declaring the issue “a national agenda item” and announcing a subcommittee would be formed to tackle the problem.

Late last month, Thai lawmakers passed amendments to anti-trafficking laws, introducing harsher penalties for human traffickers.

The country has been under increased pressure in recent weeks since an Associated Press report delved into the slave-like conditions faced by hundreds of men from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar on fishing boats plying the waters off Indonesia.

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