Thai authorities arrested 72 undocumented Cambodian migrant workers and repatriated them to Cambodia on November 5, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Foreign ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said on November 5 that the workers had illegally entered Thailand through two border crossings.
After receiving notification of the arrest, the Cambodian consulate-general intervened with Thai authorities to repatriate them via Poipet International Border Checkpoint. The workers have to undergo health checks to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
Illegal border crossings remain an issue, with many migrants risking arrest in search of jobs in the neighbouring country.
In an effort to help address the issue, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), UNDP, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) last week organised the National Consultation on Promoting Fair and Ethical Recruitment of migrant workers, with the support of the regional support office of the Bali Process.
IOM said in a press statement that discussions focused on the national legislation framework and international standards in Cambodia to the Thailand migration corridor.
Recommendations and practical solutions on how to promote fair and ethical recruitment in Cambodia were put forward and will be considered by the labour ministry for implementation on a policy level.
IOM Cambodia chief of mission Kristin Parco said cooperation among state institutions, civil society and businesses at national, regional and international levels is essential to eradicating human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery in international supply chains, from garment manufacturing to agriculture and construction.
Citing data from the NCCT, IOM said over 250,000 Cambodian migrant workers have already returned to Cambodia since the beginning of Covid-19.
Alissar Chaker, UNDP Cambodia Resident Representative, said national consultation was very timely as migrant workers face additional challenges posed by Covid-19.
“UNDP together with other UN entities will continue to work with the government, the private sector and civil society organisations to facilitate the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“This is surely an ethical issue, but also a sound business decision in a globalised economy,” Alissar Chaker said.