Eight Cambodian prisoners have been released from Thailand’s Sisaket provincial prison after being jailed for crossing the border illegally to fell wood.
Hou Dararith, chief of the Choam Sa-ngam Border Checkpoint, said yesterday the eight people were from Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
He added they were arrested in March 2016 after crossing the border through O’Svay gate in Oddar Meanchey.
He said the eight have now been allowed to return home to their villages on the promise not to commit further forestry crimes.
“We have educated them about the danger of logging in Thailand and let them go back home,” said Mr Dararith.
“I told them it is risky to cross the border; they could get shot.”
According to Mr Dararith, Thai authorities also arrested eight Cambodians last week after they too crossed the border to fell wood.
Srey Naren, a coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that brokers hire villagers from other provinces to cross the border into Thailand to log and give them money if they return with large hauls.
“They are actually aware about the danges, but their living conditions force them to take risks,” Mr Naren said.
“If they can bring back big pieces of trees, they will have one or two bags of rice for their families.”
According to Mr Naren, one logger was shot dead and three others were injured in shootings by Thai authorities this year.