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Trafficked fishermen ‘safe, headed home’

Trafficked fishermen ‘safe, headed home’

Fifteen Cambodian men who were rescued from two affiliated Thai fishing boats by authorities there in January were victims of human trafficking, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The fishermen, from Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kampot, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces, had been working on the boats for three months before being discovered on January 21 off the coast of Thailand’s Ranong province.

The men are reportedly staying at a centre for trafficking victims in Ranong until they can testify against the alleged trafficking company on March 24.

“We contacted their families already . . . Now they are safe and waiting to come home,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong.

The employer accused of trafficking had agreed to give each fisherman 25,000 baht ($714) in wages, according to the ministry.

Separately, 25 workers in Kampong Chhnang have asked rights group Adhoc to help them obtain wages from a notorious recruitment firm that trafficked them to work on a fishing boat from 2009 through 2011.

In April 2014, the Taiwanese owner of Giant Ocean International, now defunct, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for trafficking hundreds of Cambodian fishermen to work in slave-like conditions overseas.

The 25 workers, from Rolea Ba’ier commune, submitted a complaint two years ago demanding back wages, but say they have yet to see any compensation.

“They promised to give us $150 to $200 per month and ordered us to work many hours, and some of us got abused,” said Seng Kimrin, one of the workers. “Until now, we still didn’t get any wages.”

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