Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday urged provincial authorities along the border to remain vigilant against the transportation of Cambodian migrant workers into Thailand.
Speaking during an annual meeting of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), he said despite the closure of the Thai-Cambodian border, human trafficking has persisted and must be addressed.
“When they [migrant workers] reach Thailand without proper documentation, it is illegal. The people crossing the border are committing an illegal act and the traffickers, who collude with private firms in Thailand, are even more to blame.
“I ask all border authorities, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), the National Police and other relevant officials to prevent people from crossing into Thailand and to arrest the traffickers,” he said.
NCCT vice-chair Chou Bun Eng also expressed concern about human trafficking amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said the illegal practice harms everyone involved.
“Some of the traffickers have been caught by Thai authorities and the migrant workers were returned to Cambodia. So the workers lose money while the traffickers also have to pay the price for their actions.
“Apart from losing time fleeing from police, the traffickers are also put in quarantine for 14 days. Some are also injured while attempting to escape the authorities,” she said.
Bun Eng called on relevant authorities to prevent illegal border crossings.
She said the pandemic, which has taken its toll on the economy with those in the informal sectors suffering the most, could lead to a rise in human trafficking.
“During a time when people are worried about their livelihoods, they [traffickers] will lure them [migrant workers] to cross the border because they need money for their benefit.
“The broker will find the means, and the citizens have to make a hard choice as the brokers can be very persuasive. We are worried that our citizens think this illegal border crossing is the right way to go during this critical time,” she said.