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Local police chief dismissed amid migrant-broker row

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Kim Ponlork, the Kamrieng district police chief in Battambang province has been dismissed from the National Police for releasing a broker who brought Cambodian migrants into Thailand illegally. Facebook

Local police chief dismissed amid migrant-broker row

The Kamrieng district police chief in Battambang province has been dismissed from the National Police for releasing a broker who brought Cambodian migrants into Thailand illegally.

The dismissal of Kim Ponlork was confirmed in a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on February 15.

Hun Sen ordered forces along the borders to stop all unauthorised cross-border traffic and ensure that anyone returning from Thailand follows quarantine rules.

Officers at the border must interview all people caught trying to cross without permission in order to identify informal sites that people use to cross into Cambodia and skirt quarantine protocols.

“I ordered Battambang authorities and National Police to arrest the broker, but he was released. This could lead to the firing of any officials who are found to have violated any measures for combating human trafficking,” he said.

Hun Sen noted that most returning migrants had undergone and already completed quarantine procedures.

“While most are quarantined properly, some have avoided the quarantine centres entirely. These laws must be enforced, and there must be serious consequences for ringleaders who bring people across the borders without being quarantined,” he said.

“Please arrest anyone involved with bringing people across the borders illegally. Bring them to justice and educate them so that they stop doing it,” he added.

Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak said he acted on Hun Sen’s orders by having meetings with officials at all levels to discuss how to better enforce the quarantine measures.

“We have worked hard on the matter from the beginning. So far, we have arrested brokers who brought workers from Thailand illegally and sent them to court to face charges and time in prison,” he said.

NGO Adhoc’s officer in Battambang Yin Mengly said if Ponlork colluded to release the broker, what might seem like a relatively small matter could actually affect everyone.

“If migrant workers with Covid-19 return without quarantine, the virus could spread everywhere. It would affect the economies of the provinces across the whole country and everyone’s livelihoods,” he said.

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