Twelve Cambodian men who were trafficked onto Thai fishing boats and forced to work as slaves will arrive home from Indonesia this morning after Cambodian and Indonesian authorities and the International Organization for Migration rescued them, officials said yesterday.
Koy Kuong, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the men were recently freed after most of them had illegally crossed into Thailand to find jobs, but had become victims of human trafficking and had been sold to Thai fisherman.
The men had endured months of hard labour near the Maluku Islands, he said.
“Now they are being looked after at an immigration office in Indonesia and waiting to be sent back to Cambodia,” he said yesterday, adding that they would be repatriated today.
Am Sam Ath, a senior human rights monitor for Licadho, said many Cambodians were compelled to travel abroad for work because they were unemployed or because they believed they could make more money for their family by doing so.
Many did not understand the dangers of human trafficking and were easily lured and cheated by brokers, he said.
“I appeal to police to arrest the brokers, so the number of cases of human trafficking can be reduced,” he said.
Chhiv Phally, a deputy of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department at the Ministry of Interior, said officials were investigating the case involving the 12 men as well as other cases in which Cambodians had been trafficked.
“Police must catch the brokers to find justice for all the victims,” he said.
Last year, almost 90 Cambodian were repatriated from Malaysia, Indonesia and Mauritius after being trafficked through Thailand.
Representatives from Cambodia, Thailand, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam gathered in Phnom Penh last week to discuss cracking down on trafficking at the countries’ borders.