Both the government and the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies yesterday denied media reports that Cambodia and Vietnam will provide domestic workers to Saudi Arabia.
Citing Saudi Arabian newspapers, the news website Emirates 24/7 reported yesterday that Cambodian and Vietnam had agreed to send maids to the country if basic conditions such as minimum break times were ensured.
This would help fill the shortfall of maids in Saudi Arabia after Indonesia and the Philippines both placed moratoriums on sending domestic migrant workers to the Middle Eastern nation last year.
But Hou Vudthy, deputy general director at the Ministry of Labour, said yesterday that Cambodia had never negotiated or discussed sending maids to work in Saudi Arabia.
“We have not sent maids or discussed sending maids to Saudi Arabia or any Arab countries,” he said.
ACRA board member Lao Ly Hok said the association had looked at the possibility of sending maids to Saudi Arabia a long time ago, but concluded it was not viable after conducting studies.
“For our members of ACRA, we don’t have this green light to send to Saudi Arabia, and [under] our ACRA policy we did not decide to send to Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that no such plan was in the works.
He said ACRA was busy negotiating protections so domestic workers could return to Malaysia after the government placed a moratorium on sending maids there last year following a spate of abuse scandals.
Joel Preston, a consultant with the Cambodian Legal Education Center, said that given the precedents of abuse, it was crucial protections were negotiated before any thought was given to sending maids to countries such as Saudi Arabia.
“We really need to make sure that those measures are enforced otherwise we’re going to have a repeat of the same process that we saw in Malaysia, it’s going to be mass exploitation and possible fatalities,” he said.
The Indonesian moratorium on sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia was instituted in August after a maid found guilty of murdering her employer was beheaded.