Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Migrant workers ‘abandoned’

Migrant workers ‘abandoned’

Cambodian migrant workers leaving Thailand and coming back into the country on the Poipet border
Cambodian migrant workers leaving Thailand and coming back into the country on the Poipet border earlier this year . Vireak Mai

Migrant workers ‘abandoned’

Nearly 200 Cambodian migrant workers who were scammed by their broker and then abandoned south of Bangkok earlier this week are among the latest victims falling between the cracks of an ill-defined labour registration system, according to rights experts.

The 180 Cambodian migrants were taken to southern Thailand on Tuesday by a broker promising factory jobs for 300 baht ($9) a day, Thai media reported.

Told they were en route to register for employment documents, the workers were instead dumped in a field around 2am on Wednesday morning, said Sim Sam Arth, chief of the Poipet immigration office.

Some of those defrauded held passports, and thought they were migrating legally to Thailand. But the neighbouring countries are still at odds about the legal system, and while they signed a memorandum of understanding in June, the announced process is still not in place, monitors said. Instead, workers are entering a risky grey area reliant on their employer registering them for temporary work and residency cards.

“The present situation leaves hundreds of thousands of Cambodian migrants in a limbo where it is not clear if they can be deported back at any time,” said Sara Piazzano, country director of the USAID-funded Counter-Trafficking in Persons Project. “It is really urgent that the Thai and Cambodian Governments find an agreement on these procedures.”

But according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the current registration system is seeing Cambodian workers pour back into Thailand. More than 420,000 have been granted legal working status, while another 270,000 have temporary status, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday after a meeting with the Thai ambassador.

The figures represent a huge leap beyond any previous tallies; in June, the government estimated 450,000 undocumented Cambodians had worked in Thailand before the post-coup exodus, only 90,000 of whom were documented.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Monks given ‘Samdech’ title for contributions

    Three senior monks on Thursday were given the highest-ranking title “samdech”, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying that the promotions were due to their contributions to Buddhism. The three distinguished monks were promoted on Thursday morning at Botum Vatey pagoda in Phnom Penh, at a

  • Facing possible sanctions, PM criticises Washington’s rights record

    While United States congressmen are discussing the Cambodia Democracy Act and an amendment that could impose more sanctions against Cambodia’s government, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday counterattacked by questioning the respect of human rights and democracy under the US-backed Lon Nol regime, and