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Fishermen file appeal in Thailand trafficking

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Migrant workers repair a net on a Thai fishing boat. Four Cambodians who claim they were forced to work in slave-like conditions on a Thai boat have appealed a court decision throwing out their case. NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP

Fishermen file appeal in Thailand trafficking

Cambodian plaintiffs in a Thai trafficking case lodged an appeal against a provincial court’s judgment dismissing all charges against the suspects accused of tricking them into slave-like working conditions.

The four Cambodians were rescued last year and claimed they had been forced to work up to 22 hours a day. The judgment throwing out their complaint ruled that the plaintiffs must have known they were going to work on a fishing boat and that the alleged hours were physically impossible.

According to a summary of the appeal, provided by the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) in Thailand yesterday, the plaintiffs were tricked into going onto the boat.

“All of the plaintiffs wanted to flee,” according to the summary from HRDF, which is providing legal support to the plaintiffs.

“One tried to escape with the boat that occasionally came to pick up the harvested fish. He did, but was caught [and brought] back to the same boat.”

UN Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons Regional Manager Kaori Kawarabayashi said in an email that a 2013 ILO survey of 600 fishermen found that about 9 percent “of Cambodians interviewed were in situations of forced labour”.

He argued Cambodia had to “target the actors primarily benefitting from people’s exploitation” and reduce costs for recruitment, noting “high fees often lead to debt that may become a coercive means compelling people to remain in highly exploitative environments”.

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