The Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Bangkok sent a letter to the Thai authorities on Monday requesting the release of 85 Cambodian workers imprisoned near the border in Sa Kaeo province over their alleged involvement in human trafficking.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Ket Sophann told The Post that the Thai prison authorities have promised to address the issue.
The request came after the prisoners’ families urged the relevant authorities to intervene and ask the Thai authorities to free the 85 Cambodian nationals.
A family member said that their relatives had been held in prison for more than three months.
Sophann said the Cambodian embassy in Thailand submitted a formal letter on Monday requesting the Thai authorities to free all the prisoners.
“The Cambodian embassy submitted a letter asking for the immediate release of the prisoners, or as soon as possible, and the Thai prison authorities have promised to address the issue quickly,” Sophann said.
He said after Cambodian embassy officials became aware of the arrests, they immediately contacted the commander of Sa Kaeo Provincial Prison to find out the details of the prisoners’ detention.
Sophann said that the prison commander had told the embassy that the Cambodian workers had been detained for their involvement in human trafficking and allowed embassy officials to provide them consultation.
“Given that they had been detained for more than 85 days, on July 30, the Cambodian embassy again met with the head of the prison. The prison commander said he had been following the case very closely and he had reported it to his superiors.
“He said that following the latest meeting, he would immediately submit a report to the top officials to inform them of the Cambodian embassy’s concerns and that would revert to the embassy,” Sophann said.
Sam Chankea, the Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, told The Post that many people migrate illegally into Thailand despite being aware that they face shootings, torture or imprisonment by the Thai authorities.
“It’s nothing new. It’s happening again to Cambodians. We don’t have a clear mechanism to help workers escape persecution from Thai authorities,” he said.
Chankea said Cambodian authorities needed to have clear mechanisms to create more jobs in the country to thwart migration and that the authorities must also look for the brokers who help the illegal migrant workers to enter Thailand.