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Preah Sihanouk authorities warn of clampdown on employee abuse

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Casino buildings in Sihanoukville in August. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

Preah Sihanouk authorities warn of clampdown on employee abuse

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has warned of legal action against any employers of establishments in the province, such as hotels or casinos, who force force their employees to work overtime or try to detain them against their will for any reason.

Provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun issued a statement on September 27 banning the use of employment contracts with provisions in them that run contrary to Cambodian labour laws regarding recruitment and management of workers.

He said his administration has received numerous complaints along these lines recently and are still working to resolve some cases. If they find that a hotel or casino owner is committing crimes they will take immediate action by suspending their business licence temporarily and closing them down until the matter is addressed.

He said that in such cases, should the court then choose to prosecute the alleged offenders and they are convicted, they will be facing possible prison sentences and the permanent revocation of any business licences.

He said forcing employees to work overtime could be grounds for the revocation of their licenses because it is illegal under Cambodian labour laws.

The governor said that any employers who are engaged in human trafficking and sexual exploitation by recruiting workers for legitimate jobs and then pressuring them into prostitution or any other illegal activity would be dealt with severely as would any employers who used exploitative practices such as debt-servitude or keeping workers isolated or trapped by withholding salaries or taking their passports and other similar practices.

“Any person who illegally transports another person for the purpose of sexual exploitation, production of pornographic images, marriage contrary to the will of the victim, forced adoption or any other form of exploitation shall be punished to the full extent of the law,” according to Chamroeun’s notice, which also noted that anyone who imprisons or detains another person without lawful authority to do so could be prosecuted on charges as serious as kidnapping.

Cambodian Labour Confederation president Ath Thorn said the issuance of the letter to remind business owners to abide by Cambodian laws was a good first step but the implementation will only be effective if the authorities take active measures against some offenders to make examples of them as a deterrent for these practices.

“I think the good news is that the authorities are showing awareness of the problem because we know already that some casino owners have been forcing their workers to do overtime and refusing to allow them to go anywhere.

“But sending them a letter isn’t enough. There should be investigations and monitoring, possibly leading to prosecutions in court, as well as a hotline number for these workers to report violations and get help when they run into trouble,” he said.

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