Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers fearing deportation get help from gov’t

Workers fearing deportation get help from gov’t

Workers fearing deportation get help from gov’t

The 150,000 illegal Cambodian workers currently living in Thailand may escape deportation after all, Cambodian and Thai officials said yesterday.

According to representatives of the two governments, a plan is currently in the works that would allow Cambodian officials to travel to Thailand and begin issuing passports to workers out of the embassy in Bangkok, passports that the Thai government would then affix with the proper visa and work permit without forcing the workers to exit the country and come back across the border legally – a process that experts have said puts workers at risk of debt bondage.

“So far, our working group is working with their Thai counterparts about that, and now our government has decided to send a working group to provide a passport to our people there, our workers,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said.

“It means that we will provide passports to our workers there at our Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok [starting] from the 28th this month.”

Kuong said that he did not know when the program would close, but that officials would try to issue passports to “as many Cambodians as possible”.

“Our working group tries to work with their Thai counterparts so [workers] will not be deported, because deportation will make the work complicated,” he said.

Dr Somkiat Chayasriwong, permanent secretary to the Thai Ministry of Labour, confirmed that talks were indeed in the works, but that nothing was set in stone.

“We are talking to Cambodians, [asking] can they send officials to make the passport in Thailand,” he said, noting that Cambodians would then “be able to stay and work for their same employer”.

Somkiat also said that if Cambodians got their passports while inside the country, the Thai government would consider issuing necessary work documents in-country as well.

“If they get the passport from the government, we will do it in Thailand too, without going to the border,” Somkiat said. “It is not definite, but we try to do it so it’s more convenient.”

Labour migration expert Andy Hall of Thailand’s Mahidol University said that he had yet to hear of the agreement but, if it went through, it would be a “commendable” process.

However, he noted, because illegal migrants aren’t allowed to travel between provinces, getting to Bangkok to receive the passports could become cost-prohibitive.

“It doesn’t have to be, but generally it becomes that way,” he said. “When they have to travel somewhere, they come across enforcement agents, and they come across corrupt officials who just take money from them.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release