Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five migrants return after an ordeal at sea

Five migrants return after an ordeal at sea

Five migrants return after an ordeal at sea

FIVE Cambodian migrants who spent almost a year in an Indonesian jail after being tricked into working as fishermen on Thai boats for two years were repatriated to Cambodia late last night.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong identified the five men as Chea Yun and Van Savouth from Takeo province, Chhuong Chhim from Banteay Meanchey, Phen Chhoeun from Oddar Meanchey and Iem Kim from Siem Reap.

Speaking shortly after arriving at Phnom Penh International Airport last night, Chhuong Chim, 23, said he’d worked as a fisherman in Thailand for roughly two years before being arrested by Indonesian authorities.

“I was in detention for about 10 months,” he said. “We were put in jail like Indonesian prisoners, but we were not hurt. I am very happy to be back.”

Koy Kuong said the five migrants were “cheated” in 2007 by a broker who said he could find them jobs in Thailand. When they arrived, they were sold by the broker to the owner of a Thai fishing boat. They were caught fishing in Indonesian territory and arrested last October.

“They worked as slaves for the Thai fishing boat owner for almost two years,” Koy Kuong said.

He said the ordeal of the five men should serve as a deterrent for Cambodian migrants who plan to migrate illegally to find work overseas.

“If Cambodian workers want to work outside the country, it should be done legally,” he said. “If they are illegal, they’re better working locally so they can avoid being cheated into working like slaves and facing arrest.” He added that the Cambodian government worked closely with the International Organisation for Migration in Phnom Penh to negotiate their return to the Kingdom.

Preap Pintheary, second secretary of the Cambodian Embassy in Indonesia, who accompanied the men on their return trip, said Indonesian authorities had cooperated throughout the repatriation process.

“We spent two months and 18 days in negotiations for the release of these workers,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • EU parliament’s 13-point vote to decide on possible sanctions

    The European Parliament is due to vote on Thursday on a 13-point resolution on Cambodia – which includes a call for the treason charges against bailed opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped – a threat that could see the EU enforce a range of sanctions against

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey