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Migrants freed to leave India

Migrants freed to leave India

EIGHT Cambodian men are set to return home tomorrow after being held for six months in an Indian detention centre, an official said yesterday.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the workers, brought illegally to India last September on a Thai fishing vessel, were in good health, and that the International Organisation for Migration would be responsible for repatriating them to Cambodia by air.

“They will arrive on Tuesday at 9am,” Koy Kuong said. “The IOM will escort them back to Cambodia directly.”

According to a report issued last month by local rights group Adhoc, the eight men – Nob Chet, 36, Rin Run, 22, Rin Rithy, 19, Song Mov, 24, Song Pheakdey, 19, Yi Vet, 45, Vy Bunthoeun, 17, and Nun Rin, 21 – had secured fake Thai passports and intended to seek construction work in Thailand.

Instead they were trafficked to India, where they were arrested and imprisoned for six months by Indian authorities.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator with Adhoc, said that the organisation and the workers’ families were both eagerly anticipating their homecoming, though they had not yet been notified of tomorrow’s return flight.

“I knew they were coming back this week, but we hadn’t been given a specific date,” he said.

“I will be happy to see them come back in good health.”

The eight are the most recent victims of what rights workers say is a worsening trend of male migrant workers being tricked into working on foreign fishing vessels with few resources and little chance of escape.

In May, another eight trafficked workers were returned to Cambodia after escaping from a fishing vessel on which they were forced to work like “slaves”, they said.

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