Police discovered children as young as 12 working at a Chinese firm’s sugarcane plantation in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district yesterday following a tip-off, an official said.
“Our officers visited the plantation this morning, seeing only three boys and two girls aged 12, 13 and 16,” said Praing Thida, director of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau.
The visit followed a complaint that more than 20 children had been working at Lan Feng International’s plantation since January.
“We do not want them to work like that, because they will not have time to go to school,” Thida said.
Children aged 12 are allowed to work, provided the tasks are light and do not prevent them from getting an education. Children aged 15 to 17 can work full-time so long as the work is considered non-hazardous.
In this case, Thida said, the children were not working every day and were in the company of their mothers. The children received about $5 per day – more than the minimum wage in the garment sector.
“We’ve spoken to the company about this [work] rather than taken any serious action. We are making a report for the provincial police chief,” she said.
Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the complainant, an employee of the company, had also alerted the NGO to the situation.
That employee claims she has since been fired and physically threatened by someone who works for the company.
Y Heng, a representative of Lan Feng, could not be reached for comment yesterday.