Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Six saved from slave trawler

Six saved from slave trawler

Migrant labourers sort fish as they work on a Thai fishing boat in Thailand. The IOM yesterday confirmed that six fisherman rescued from a Thai boat off the coast of Papua New Guinea were Cambodian.
Migrant labourers sort fish as they work on a Thai fishing boat in Thailand. The IOM yesterday confirmed that six fisherman rescued from a Thai boat off the coast of Papua New Guinea were Cambodian. AFP

Six saved from slave trawler

Six Cambodians were among the eight trafficked fishermen recently rescued from a Thai-owned cargo ship off of Papua New Guinea, officials with the International Organization for Migration confirmed yesterday, the latest in an ongoing crackdown on slave-staffed trawlers operating illegally in far-flung foreign waters.

“We can confirm six Cambodian VOTs [victims of trafficking] and two from Myanmar in one vessel,” said IOM project manager Paul Dillon in a text message yesterday.

“All have now moved to an IOM transit centre in Port Moresby.”

The rescues come after a four-month investigation by the Associated Press discovered two refrigerated cargo ships off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

They are believed to have left Indonesian waters after authorities turned up evidence of human trafficking rings using the archipelago’s remotest islands to hold workers captive and use their labour to supply seafood to markets around the world.

In recent months, hundreds of Cambodians have returned home after being swindled into working illegally on Thai ships fishing in Indonesian waters.

The men were often kept in slave-like conditions in between long shifts at sea, surviving on little food and receiving no money for their back-breaking labour.

Although this ship, named The Blissful Reefer, and its crew members are thought to be part of the same ring out of Thailand, George Gigauri, the head of the IOM in Port Moresby, said that it’s still too early to know for sure.

“At this stage, we can’t say for sure that it’s connected, but it appears to be that way,” he said yesterday.

In all, Gigauri said that 27 men, all believed to be victims of trafficking, were taken off The Blissful Reefer on July 27.

Eight of them, including the six Cambodians, were interviewed and moved to the IOM transit centre, while the other 19 remain on the island township of Daru and are currently waiting to be interviewed and processed.

Dillon said that authorities in Papua New Guinea are currently leading the investigation into the case, while there has been no update regarding the involvement of Cambodian officials.

There is currently no timeline for repatriation.

“We [IOM] are assisting their efforts by providing translation services and support to the VOTs,” he added.

Officials at Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

    ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied. Ky Tech, a

  • Cambodian general visits Myanmar to enhance national defence cooperation

    Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Vong Pisen is now in Myanmar leading a delegation that aims to improve ties, particularly in national defence, with the fellow Asean member. The timing of Pisen’s four-day visit to the Southeast Asian neighbour is highly symbolic, with

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Sokha’s treason trial begins

    The treason trial of Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday with the presentation of a two-minute video clip. The footage, which was the basis of the charge against him, was dismissed by