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Cambodian workers ‘held in Thailand’

Cambodian workers ‘held in Thailand’

The Licadho office in Pursat will be forwarding to the provincial court the complaint of three families who say their relatives’ passports are being held by a Thai company demanding more than two months’ wages to let the workers leave, victims and the group said yesterday.

Mith Samuon, an investigator for the rights group, said she would send the complaint next week, asking the court to take legal action against the Buruh Cambodia Co Ltd for its role in sending the workers to Thailand where, in addition to alleged extortion, the workers have reportedly been subjected to mistreatment and threats.

“They were forced to build a canal, remove big rocks; they were kicked while working, and [the employers] threatened to sell them to fishing boats and to kill them,” Samuon said.

“The problem has not been solved yet, but the company is still advertising [for] more workers.”   

Sou Boeurn, 43, said that his son Sou Kola, 19, was sent to work in Thailand in January after paying the firm $150.

“It is like they sold my son to the Thai employer, because my son wants to return home, but he is ordered to pay 20,000 baht,” or roughly $680, he said.

Kola said from Thailand that each month his 8,800-baht salary was docked 2,000 baht to go towards buying back his passport. He knew his salary would be docked when he took the job, he said, but not that he wouldn’t be able to leave if he wanted.

A female staffer who answered the phone at Buruh Cambodia, but declined to identify herself, called the accusations a distortion of the truth, saying workers were not abused.

However, another staffer, who identified himself as Chetra, said that his “boss is in Thailand to investigate after hearing the accusations”.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phak Seangly at [email protected]

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