Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday called on local authorities to tighten measures at border checkpoints and prevent Cambodian migrant workers from crossing into Thailand as the country recently decided to extend its lockdown until June 30 in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The order came following the recent attempts of Cambodian migrant workers to cross into Thai territory in the hopes of searching for jobs to support their families
Mr Kheng yesterday acknowledged the plight of the displaced workers and noted the vulnerable position they are in, making them easy targets for human trafficking and forced labour rings.
Speaking during the annual meeting for the dissemination of the 2019 National Report on Human Trafficking, Mr Kheng ordered for the tracking and arrest of labour brokers
who persuade and recruit Cambodian migrant workers to cross the border despite the travel bans.
“The borders are currently closed so make sure that no illegal migration to Thailand occurs, especially while a state of emergency is still effected in the country. I call on the cooperation of relevant officials to stop migrant workers from crossing to the other side and arrest the labour brokers,” said Mr Kheng.
Chou Bun Eng, Vice- chairwoman of the National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking, said the recent attempts for illegal cross-border migration mark the country’s second wave of human trafficking.
“While the COVID-19 lockdown is in place in Thailand, a number of brokers attempted to illegally bring in displaced Khmer migrant workers back to the country. The attempt failed and the workers were subsequently arrested by Thai authorities,” she said, referring to the
arrest of 68 Cambodians in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province on May 9 for illegally crossing the border.
Ms Bun Eng noted such actions only cost the workers more money and time.
“It is a new wave of human trafficking. I appeal to the authorities to tighten border restrictions to prevent such incidents from happening again,” said Ms Bun Eng.
The 2019 report of the National Committee for Anti-Human Trafficking released yesterday revealed a total of 169 cases of human and sexual trafficking reported last year. From these, 229 suspects were arrested and 445 victims were rescued, with most of them either sent to the Department of Social Affairs or brought back to their families.