Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered an illegal broker to serve pretrial detention after charging him with cheating seven people out of thousands of dollars by claiming he would find them work in South Korea, an official said yesterday.
Mok Chito, director of the Ministry of Interior’s department of penal police, said the suspect, who he declined to name, was arrested on Monday after his victims filed a complaint, and was charged and sent to prison on Tuesday.
“The offender cheated more than US$10,000 from the victims and the victims filed the complaint to Interior Ministry police,” Mok Chito said.
The suspect allegedly told his victims he would find work for them in South Korea in exchange for a fee, but then “ran away” with their money, Mok Chito said.
He added that the victims had all been poor people who could not find work domestically and had borrowed money to pay the broker to find jobs for them in South Korea.
Mok Chito said he did not know if a trial date had been set. Municipal Court officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Last month, officials announced that agents working for licensed labour recruitment firms will from January be required to wear uniforms and carry identity cards in a bid to differentiate them from unlicensed brokers.
Officials said the move – a joint initiative of the Labour Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the ACRA – came in response to a recent spate of cases involving trafficked or abused migrant workers.
Yesterday, An Bun Hak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said 4,000 official recruitment staff shirts had been made. He said he planned to organise a two-day training seminar by the end of the month, during which recruiters would be given job training including information on labour laws and “morality”.
“We have started to register the recruitment firm staff members and we will train them about the importance of the uniform and to understand about their work during this month,” he said.
“We do that in order to protect workers and so they can decide carefully before they go to work [abroad] and protect them from being cheated by someone.”
Also last month, the Labour Ministry announced plans to crackdown on private companies recruiting Cambodian labour for work in South Korea from January 1, in a bid to prevent any potential human trafficking and exploitation that might discourage others from seeking work there.
Officials said South Korea paid some of the highest migrant labour wages in the region, and that – after a spate of recent trafficking and abuse cases involving migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand – the government wanted to ensure the country remains a safe option for Cambodian workers.
According to Labour Ministry figures, about 7,000 Cambodian workers have been sent to South Korea since 2006, mostly to work in the garment or agriculture industries, where they can earn a basic monthly salary of between $800 and $1,000 per month.
By comparison, similar jobs in Thailand or Malaysia pay around $150 to $200 per month.