A man who allegedly trafficked 10 men into slave labour aboard notoriously brutal Thai fishing boats was arrested and charged late last week by police in Kandal province.
Chhem Vanny, Kandal province deputy police chief, said yesterday that 32-year-old Lo Phalla was arrested on Friday in Khsach Kandal district and detained in provincial prison.
“We are investigating so we can arrest other brokers who were involved with this case ... and we are trying to search for and help the victims,” she said.
Three victims allegedly trafficked by the man, she said, had managed to return home with the help of family members but another seven remained enslaved on fishing boats.
Police arrested Lo Phalla following complaints from the victims’ families who said he had promised their children lucrative jobs in Thailand, but instead trafficked them onto fishing boats in early April, she added.
Ros Savin, bureau chief of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police department in Kandal province, said he suspected that the suspect’s family was involved.
“We suspect that the suspect’s wife, younger brother and mother in law are involved with this case and we have requested that the court arrest them,” he said, adding the suspect’s younger brother was known to be in Thailand.
Lo Phalla was charged with the unlawful removal of people for cross-border transfer under the Kingdom’s anti-human trafficking laws on Saturday.
The charge carries a sentence of between seven and 15 years in prison.
Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant for rights group Licadho, welcomed the charges yesterday.
“Putting things in perspective... it’s great that these prosecutions are occurring to protect the public and more of them are needed,” he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE