Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court sentences three for trafficking workers

Court sentences three for trafficking workers

Court sentences three for trafficking workers

Human rights NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) on Friday hailed the conviction of three “key players” in a Siem Reap-based human trafficking network responsible for recruiting, transporting and selling Cambodian migrant workers into the Thai fishing industry. Despite the convictions, however, it is unclear if the victims will ever see compensation, or if two of the traffickers on the run will serve their sentences.

According to an IJM statement, on Thursday the Siem Reap Provincial Court gave Nath Sambath and Nget Phalla nine-year sentences and Moeut Kia an eight-year prison term, while the six Cambodian men who testified against them “were awarded compensation in amounts ranging from two million to twenty-five million riel [about $6,250].” They were among 230 Cambodians rescued from Thai fishing boats in Indonesian waters in June 2015.

IJM lawyers gained power of attorney for the six victims and passed their accounts to the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police in Siem Reap.

Matt Friedman, the CEO of the Hong Kong-based anti-slavery nonprofit The Mekong Club, lauded the convictions as a milestone, pointing to the low number of previous arrests and convictions in Cambodia.

“It sends a strong message to those doing these criminal activities ‘You may be next’,” said Friedman, a former Regional project manager for the United Nations International Project on Human Trafficking. The US State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons report identifies 69 prosecutions under Cambodia’s 2008 Anti-Trafficking Law.

The convictions, however, are only part of the story. As Peter Williams of IJM acknowledged, the court-mandated compensations are meant to be paid by the convicted traffickers, who in the past have refused to pay.

Furthermore, Phalla fled and remains at large after previously being granted bail by an investigating judge, while Kia has never appeared before the court.

“Victims of Thailand’s seafood slavery generally, despite a massive input of foreign aid and Asean government actions, rarely receive a prompt remedy, rehabilitation or any compensation at all for their years or even decades of abuse at sea or in seafood processing,” said migrant worker rights specialist Andy Hall.

He called for the establishment of a “seafood slavery fund” by Thailand, other governments and seafood industry players.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,