The Cambodian Embassy in Indonesia will seek the repatriation of 16 Cambodian fishermen who have been detained more than three months for fishing illegally in the country’s territory, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said yesterday.
According to a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry, 18 men were arrested by Indonesian authorities on July 28 while fishing illegally in the country’s waters from a Thai vessel.
They were subsequently detained at an immigration holding centre on Indonesia’s Riau Island for three months before 16 of them – who carried valid Cambodian passports – were sent to an immigration office in Tanjung Pinang town, where they were interviewed by Cambodian Embassy officials from last Thursday to Sunday and confirmed to be Cambodians.
“The embassy will intervene and [allow them to be] repatriated as soon as possible,” Sounry said, adding that the fishermen had crossed over to Thailand at the end of June and then to Malaysia, where they fished for 20 days before entering Indonesian waters.
The remaining two – who were not carrying any passports – remained behind as witnesses to file a complaint against the illegal fishing boat’s owner.
“The boat owner promised to pay them 5,000 baht [$141] per month. They worked at least 15 hours a day with little rest and food,” he added.