The Ministry of Labour has been ordered to permanently close the labour recruitment firm T&P following the discovery of more under-age trainees in its Kampong Chhnang centre.
The move marks the first time the ministry has shut a labour reruitment firm, and follows intense criticism of the industry and the government’s reluct-ance to regulate it.
Chiv Phally, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said yesterday he had already sent a letter ordering the Labour Ministry to shut the firm.
“We cannot allow this company to operate and we have enough evidences to close it.
“After this company, we will check with the other recruitment firms to find out whether they recruit under-age girls or detain the workers. We want to make them respect the law.”
Chiv Phally said four suspects had been charged on Wednesday following raids that began last weekend.
“A company staffer was charged with illegal detention, a broker was charged with unlawful removal for cross-border transfer, and two mothers from Kratie province were charged with faking documents to change their daughters’ age.”
Prack Sao Ny, the provincial deputy police chief in charge of human trafficking, said that of the 126 trainees that had been questioned, 35 had been found to be under-age and 27 had fake documents.
“We will keep on monitoring and questioning these workers. We are especially trying to arrest the owner of the company, Sam Piseth, and some brokers who we know are in other provinces,” she said.
A nation-wide warrant has been issued for Sam Piseth’s arrest.
An Bunhak, director of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said the Ministry of Labour would close T&P today or on Monday, adding that border police had been alerted that Sam Piseth might try to flee the country.
“We will search for him, and if the police checking on the border know he is out of the country, they will take action [by alerting police in other countries] because they have a connection with Interpol,” he said.
All labour firms could now expect regular inspections, while those that broke the law would be raided and prosecuted, An Bunhak said.
Huy Pich Sovann, a program officer at the Community Legal Education Centre, said it was crucial that senior management and the most responsible staff at labour recruitment firms were brought to justice.
“We welcome the police crackdown on illegal recruitment of under-age girls, but I hope they charge the right people and avoid the ones who are not acting illegally and would be victims if wrongfully charged or arrested,” he said.