Officials from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar yesterday began a two-day meeting to discuss challenges faced by workers from their countries who migrate abroad, especially to Thailand.
The second technical consultative meeting on the Roles of Sending Countries for Strengthening Protection of Migrant Workers is being held in Siem Reap province’s Siem Reap city.
Chou Bun Eng, vice chairwoman of the National Committee for Counter-Trafficking, yesterday said during the meeting that this is the second time the three countries’ delegates have met for discussions, noting that first was in May last year.
She said officials will hold open and friendly discussions on ways to identify priority issues, find solutions and initiatives to improve safety and security, as well as on the rights and interests of workers and the nations.
“The main purpose of the meeting is to understand the current situation and trend of migration in order to seek measures to eliminate irregular migration, human trafficking and all forms of exploitation in the migration cycle and the promotion of safety and legality,” Ms Bun Eng noted.
She added that the second purpose is to identify common issues and exchange experiences in solving problems by strengthening cooperation in response to prevention, enforcement and protection of victims in their own countries as well as in the target countries.
“So far, workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have been considered as unskilled or low skilled workers,” Ms Bun Eng noted. “Moreover, due to the borders of our three countries with neighbouring Thailand, there are still workers crossing over to work illegally which puts many at risk of being trafficked and subjected to all forms of exploitation.”
She noted that after the meeting, officials from the three countries will prepare the minutes of the meeting and jointly sign key recommendations for their respective governments to study and discuss with Thai authorities in order to promote safety and protection of migrant workers sent there.
Sar Kheng, Interior Minister and NCCT chairman, yesterday said that Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are neighbours with similar cultures and which border Thailand where people from their countries go to work legally or illegally.
“Some workers have been facing many problems in the migration process from the time of leaving and at the workplace until they return,” he noted. “We recognise that migration is a right for citizens to choose jobs and where they want to reside, but we must also think about their rights, benefits and dignity and protection.”
“These are the roles of our three sending countries and we need to work together to solve common problems,” Mr Kheng added.
He expressed the hope that this year’s discussions will be fruitful and each country’s delegation will be able to provide recommendations for their respective government leaders to discuss and take concrete action on migration management and citizen protection.
According to an NCCT report issued last week, crackdowns on cases of human trafficking have increased by 25 percent in the first half of this year, when compared to the same period last year.
It said that the National Police and the military police foiled 78 cases between January and June, an increase when compared to last year’s 62 cases.
“Out of 78 cases, 66 were specifically related to sex trafficking crimes,” the report said. “Seventy out of 263 victims who were rescued in crackdowns this year were under 15 years old.”
It noted that 97 suspects were sent to pre-trial detention, including nine juveniles and 14 foreigners.