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Embassy in Thailand denies graft allegations

Cambodian migrant workers wait with work documents in Poipet at the Thailand-Cambodia border in 2014.
Cambodian migrant workers wait with work documents in Poipet at the Thailand-Cambodia border in 2014. Hong Menea

Embassy in Thailand denies graft allegations

The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand has denied that officials request bribes from Cambodian migrant workers trying to apply for a passport.

In a statement on Friday, the embassy said that recently citizens had accused officials of asking Cambodian workers to pay between 3,000 and 6,000 baht (about $85 to $171) before helping them to apply for and obtain a passport. The allegations had circulated on social media for several weeks.

“The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand is pleased to clarify that the accusations are not true and they affect the embassy’s reputation as a representative of the nation,” the statement said.

The embassy added that in order to help illegal Cambodian workers, the Kingdom sent officials to provide their citizens with assistance and documents to get them on the path to legal work permits.

Over the past several years, however, some Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand have complained that passport fees end up being more than advertised.

“Corruption charges and unlawful behaviour by embassy officials is systematic concerning Myanmar, Cambodian and Laos migrant workers in Thailand,” said Andy Hall, a migrants’ rights activist focused on Thailand and Myanmar.

There are about 230,000 Cambodians working legally in Thailand, as well as approximately 640,000 undocumented workers, according to figures provided to Cambodia’s Labour Ministry by Thai authorities last April.

In 2015, the embassy requested passports for 68,174 Cambodians, according to the Foreign Ministry’s year-end report. The ministry wasn’t available for comment yesterday.

Additional reporting by Igor Kossov

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