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Trafficked fishermen appeal case dismissal

Migrant workers repair a net on a Thai fishing boat in Thailand’s Rayong province. Cambodian plaintiffs last week appealed a Thai court’s decision dismissing all charges against two suspects they accuse of trafficking them into the fishing industry. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP
Migrant workers repair a net on a Thai fishing boat in Thailand’s Rayong province. Cambodian plaintiffs last week appealed a Thai court’s decision dismissing all charges against two suspects they accuse of trafficking them into the fishing industry. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP

Trafficked fishermen appeal case dismissal

Cambodian plaintiffs in a Thai human trafficking case have appealed a provincial court’s judgment dismissing charges against two suspects.

The 11 Cambodian plaintiffs were rescued last year after allegedly having spent months working up to 22 hours a day on a Thai fishing boat.

Ranong Provincial Court threw the case out in March against skipper Ruengchai Pewngam and fishing dock owner Somchai Jettanapornsamran, arguing that the victims were aware that they were going to work on a fishing boat, and that they could have resisted their captors.

Nishkhan Usayapant, case manager of Human Rights and Development Foundation’s Anti-Trafficking Project, said the plaintiffs filed an appeal on Thursday.

“The plaintiffs realised that they were deceived into working on a boat only when they were already on the boat, being told they were being transported to the fish processing factory,” she said. “They had no choice but to stay and work on the boat involuntarily.”

Moreover, the appeal argues they were allowed to leave the boat only when someone replaced them and that their documents were seized when returning to shore.

So Vandy, deputy chief of the National Police’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, said that the Thai government was seeking extradition of Cambodian broker Em Samnang, who allegedly trafficked the workers.

“Cambodia has the arrest warrant. We [will] try to find him,” he said.

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