Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cross-border workers gather yesterday to protest the closing of small border checkpoints to enter Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo supplied
Cross-border workers gather yesterday to protest the closing of small border checkpoints to enter Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province. Photo supplied

Cross-border day workers decry closed checkpoints

Cambodian workers on Saturday protested against the closing of unofficial border checkpoints in Banteay Meanchey, while hundreds of undocumented workers continued to return from Thailand through the official checkpoint in Poipet.

Villagers in Chambark cross the border to Thailand for work at Boeng Beng commune’s unofficial checkpoint in Malai district and return to Cambodia in the evening. But borders in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang were closed on July 7 after an announcement from the Interior Ministry.

Villager Duong Chiv, from Preah Netr Preah district, said he had been working in Thailand since his farmland was destroyed by a drought three years in a row. He said he needed to pay back a loan he had taken up to buy farm equipment. “I can earn about $7 to $9 per day by working on the corn and cassava plantations [in Thailand]. My family depends on my work in Thailand,” Chiv said.

Another villager, Theang Hoeun, 43, said Thai landowners depended on Cambodians crossing at Boeng Beng. “Thai farmers take 200 to 300 people per day . . . with the recognition of the border police,” she said.

But Si Chheang, commune deputy border police chief, said he could only reopen the checkpoint upon orders from the provincial level.

“We have the duty to protect the security and safety of the people along the border. The closure of the border passage is not at our discretion,” he said.

The borders were closed after a law was passed in Thailand that introduced stiff fines and prison sentences for undocumented workers, their employers and brokers. Undocumented workers can face fines of up to $3,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. The Thai government suspended the implementation of the new punishments until the end of the year.

And while the unofficial crossings in Banteay Meanchey remained closed, Cambodian migrant workers continued to return.

Sin Namyong, a Poipet border police officer, said 403 migrants returned on Friday, 382 on Saturday and 115 as of yesterday afternoon, bringing the total to more than 7,200.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday introduced a health checkpoint at the Poipet migrant transit centre. During a visit, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said the centre would “provide free first aid treatment” for returning migrants, as well as “vaccinations for kids who had not received them while in Thailand”.

The deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, Yim Verak, on Friday said the Cambodian government would set up four centres in Thailand “to legalise undocumented workers”, but did not say where.

Additional reporting by Yon Sineat

MOST VIEWED

  • Former opposition leader tells soldiers, Cambodians to unite to fight CPP

    Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy has called for a popular uprising after the July 29 national elections to force a change of government. He called on the armed forces and people to stand united to fight the ruling Cambodian People’s Party-led

  • Police warn boycott FB group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign”

    Police said on Tuesday that they will pick up members of a Facebook group involved in the “Clean Fingers Campaign” that promotes a boycott of next month’s national elections. However, police merely planned to “educate” the group for now, but warned that if the

  • Court told to act against former opposition leader for insulting King

    Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana has ordered the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor to begin legal proceedings against the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) president, Sam Rainsy, for “insulting” the King, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post. The “insult” was determined after

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do