The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation assisted with the repatriation of 36,262 migrant workers from foreign countries last year. Some of them were victims of human trafficking and abuse.
Secretary of state Ouch Borith said on Thursday that the ministry looks out for migrant workers and stepped in to aid those in need in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and China.
“The ministry helped solve problems of workers and provided services timely and effectively for Cambodian workers abroad,” he said at a meeting to sum up the work carried out last year and plans for this year.
Vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking of Cambodia Chou Bun Eng said the figures were similar to 2018.
“The ministry helped 36,262 workers return home. Of the number, some were suspected to have been victimised by human trafficking, but that does not mean all of them were,” she said.
To stop and reduce human trafficking and abuse abroad and to promote and protect migrant workers’ rights, she said, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training recently supported a code of ethics for recruitment agencies drawn up by industry players.
“Regarding collaboration to investigate and monitor offences, the National Police and its Thai counterparts collaborated to search for cases. Sometimes, we cracked down on criminals in Cambodia and Thailand.
“We continued to do all the tasks well according to our strategies. I think human trafficking and abuse and the exploitation of the labour force will be further reduced,” she said.
Labour and Human Rights programme coordinator Khun Tharo welcomed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s efforts to step in and rescue victimised workers.
But he said that the efforts were limited. He requested the relevant ministries and institutions increase their efforts.
“We see intervention from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [and International Cooperation] and in some cases, it has collaborated with civil society organisations to do the work. But some intervention failed. For instance, we identified some problems such as the continued human trafficking through marriage,” he said.
Cambodia has now sent a total of 1.2 million migrant workers abroad who send more than $2 billion per year in remittances back home to support their families, said Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng.