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Siem Reap holds labour migration meet

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Cambodian migrant workers cross the border from Thailand at Doung International Checkpoint in Battambang province’s Kamrieng district in 2016. Heng Chivoan

Siem Reap holds labour migration meet

Representatives from the Cambodian and Thai governments, the EU, the UN, civil society organisations and the private sector are participating in the ongoing “2nd International Exchange Visit for Dialogue” concerning labour migration and human trafficking between the two countries.

The forum, being held in Siem Reap from Wednesday to Friday, aims to strengthen the multi-stakeholder dialogue between the two countries to improve the implementation of the policy framework for Cambodian migrants’ rights.

The event includes a two-day international conference at the Hotel Angkor Miracle, entitled “Cross-Border Cooperation on Labour Migration and Human Trafficking between Cambodia and Thailand: From policy framework to the implementation”, and a field visit on Friday.

The initiative – which aims to prevent violations and human trafficking, and promote and protect the labour rights of low skilled Cambodian migrant workers – is organised by Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) along with its partners Legal Support for Children and Women in Cambodia and the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation in Thailand.

They say fostering cooperation between Cambodian and Thai institutions is essential since, according to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, more than 1.2 million Cambodians are working overseas.

It is estimated by the International Labour Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration that Thailand remains the main destination country for over 92 per cent of Cambodian migrants, 73 per cent of whom reach the country though irregular channels.

Consequently, Cambodian migrant workers are particularly vulnerable in Thailand and, despite efforts made by both governments, women, men and an increasing number of youths are still subject to abuse and exploitation. In the most serious cases, they are victims of human trafficking.

Chou Bun Eng, the Ministry of Interior’s secretary of state and permanent vice-chairperson of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking – who is attending the conference – told The Post on Wednesday that a solution would not be found immediately, but relevant parties are meeting to improve the situation.

“They are meeting to help each other. No party alone can resolve the issues. Migrant workers themselves are also coming to speak about their experiences in Thailand and we are listening to them,” she said.

Deputy provincial governor You Sophea, also present at the meeting, told The Post that the delegates will engage in bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand and urge the Thai parties to respect migrant workers’ rights by honouring the established legal framework.

“Our country is a migrant worker sender country and they [Thailand] are a migrant worker receiving country.

“We are doing whatever we can to make them respect migrant workers’ and citizens’ rights by complying with existing policies and following treaties and labour law,” she said.

Moeun Tola, Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights executive director, said on Thursday that the situation of migrant workers in Thailand is better in some places – such as factories exporting pork, chicken and electronic products to Europe – but several issues remain, including poor working conditions, as well as withholding salaries and passports.

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