THAILAND has released three Cambodian migrant workers who were arrested in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province in June on suspicion of being illegal immigrants, Cambodian officials said yesterday.
The trio were part of a group of 34 migrant workers arrested in a raid on a meat-packing plant. Thai officials said at the time of their arrest that they would be held in Thailand so they could testify against the owner of the plant, who has been accused of committing human rights abuses against his workers.
But Lim Tech, an official at the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations office in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said yesterday that three of the workers – 48-year-old Yang Eury and her two children, 20-year-old daughter Beung Chanrath and 18-year-old son Beung Chhun Ly – had been released on Friday in response to a request from their relatives that was relayed through the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“The victims’ relatives filed a complaint directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help the workers. They need to return soon because the grandmother of the two children is seriously ill in Banteay Meanchey province,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the repatriation of the three workers had been carried out in accordance with a bilateral memorandum of understanding.
“The case of the three workers being sent to Cambodia is very special,” he said.
“The embassy decided to intervene so they could see the 85-year-old [seriously ill] grandmother.”
Lim Tech said he had heard that five additional workers had recently escaped from the facility at which all 29 were being held.
“We are wondering why they escaped because Thai authorities did not subject them to violence,” he said. “They are living in the training centre and are allowed to do construction work, getting paid about 1,200 baht (US$39) each day,” he said.
Koy Kuong said yesterday that he had not heard about any workers escaping.
Lim Tech said the 21 workers remaining in Thailand had been summoned to appear in court on October 5.