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Men accused of smuggling 17 labourers

Men accused of smuggling 17 labourers

ANTI-HUMAN trafficking officials in Battambang province said Sunday that they broke up a labour-smuggling ring last week, arresting five men who had attempted to sneak 17 Cambodians across the border with Thailand on the evening of May 19.

The five men, who were arrested in Sampov Loun district’s Chhrey Sima commune, were apprehended while trying to transport the would-be illegal migrants across the border into Thailand on motorbikes, said Born Vannara, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department in Battambang. He added that the suspects had been under surveillance for about a year.

“Those five men were sent to the provincial court and are now being temporarily held at the provincial prison,” he said. “I don’t know when the court will charge them, because we need to carry out an investigation.”

He said he had advised the 17 prospective labourers to return to their homes in Battambang, Pursat, Siem Reap and Kampong Speu provinces, and had warned them not to try to cross the border illegally in the future.

The case is the second this year in which arrests have been made in connection with labour-smuggling, Born Vannara said, and added that there had only been two such cases in 2009.

“We arrested two masterminds last year, and this year so far we have arrested seven people,” he said.

Krouch Chhanpov, provincial head of the rights group Adhoc’s women’s rights programme, commended the officials for carrying out the arrests.

“I want the authorities and police to continue cracking down on [labour-smuggling] rings and to arrest anyone who facilitates the trafficking of people,” she said.

She added that she suspects that such cases are on the rise, though she noted that Adhoc has not conducted research to support this claim.

Lim Mony, the national head of Adhoc’s women’s rights programme, called on the government to crack down on operations facilitating work for companies overseas illegally.