Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Search on for lost men

Search on for lost men

Search on for lost men

Rights groups say three Cambodian trafficking victims who are missing in Malaysia could be in the coastal city of Miri, on the basis of information from a home owner who hid the men from authorities.

The men, believed to have been subjected to brutal enslavement on fishing boats, were hidden during an operation that rescued seven Kingdom residents.

The rescued men have said they were beaten, worked to breaking point and saw colleagues shot and tossed overboard from boats. They, along with the missing men, jumped off  the boats and swam to Sarawak province, where they were found working in two plywood factories for little pay.

Aegile Fernandez, anti-human trafficking co-ordinator at Malaysia-based rights group Tenaganita, said yesterday  information from a resident – whose house had been used to hide the men before a raid on the Asia Plywood Company fac tory  in late May – put the missing Cambodians in Miri, in Sarawak.

“They hid them away so there wouldn’t be any evidence that they had been harbouring them,” she said, adding that the fastest way to pinpoint the men’s exact location was to arrest the owner of the Asia Plywood Company  factory and interrogate him.

Huy Pich Sovann, a programme officer at the Community Legal Education Center in Cambodia, said it would still be difficult to locate the men, as Miri was a large city.

He said the home owner might provide the key to finding the victims, who he identified as “Em Top” and “Run” from Battambang province and “Ting” from Kampong Speu province.

“That man said someone took them from his home, so he must have contact with the people that took them,” Huy Pic Sovann said.

Three brokers, one of whom had operated individually, had been identified by the rescued victims and would be reported to police, he added.

Their identities could not be revealed because it would compromise future investigations, Huy Pic Sovann said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday Malaysian and Cambodian authorities would work hard together to locate them.

“We hope that with our hard work and good co-operation from the Malaysian authorities, we will be able to rescue them in the future,” he said.

Fernandez said the prospects for two  missing men were uncertain. They were reportedly recaptured by a Thai captain after jumping ship, despite not being able to swim.

“From the previous testimony of fishermen, when some of them tried to escape, they were caught and they were shot,” she said.

Raja Saifful Ridzuwan, deputy chief of mission at the Malaysian embassy in Phnom Penh, could not be reached for comment yesterday. The Asia Plywood Company did not respond.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,