B Meanchey Man Charged With Trafficking 5 Workers to Thailand

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court on Tuesday charged a man with human trafficking for allegedly at­tempting to smuggle five Cambo­dian workers into Thailand, officials said yesterday.

Poipet city police chief Um Sophal said police on Sunday ar­rested Pok Khoeurn, 49, the suspected smuggler, at his Poipet commune home. The suspect had alleg­ed­ly charged each of the five men be­tween $75 and $100 to be smuggled into Thailand and set up with jobs in either restaurants or construction work. Police arrested him as he was preparing to take them across the border.

“The suspect confessed to having smuggled many people illegally to work in Thailand,” Mr Sophal said.

Provincial anti-human trafficking police chief Sith Luos said many Cam­bodians continue to take the path of illegal emigration. “I always tell people who want to immigrate about the difficulty of living or running businesses in Thailand, and especially the dangers of going through a broker,” said Mr Luos, adding the government has difficulty cracking down on human smuggling because often when illegal immigrants are deported from Thai­land they sneak back in.

Lim Sokhet, director of the provincial social affairs department, noted that the department runs educational programs about illegal smuggling, but the problem persists. “We have broadcasts on the radio about the difficult situation faced by those who go work in Thailand,” said Mr Lim. “[But] most would like to work in Thailand…. They think they can earn much more working there.”

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankea, noted that as long as Cambodians believe the financial situation in Thailand is better, the government will likely never be able to stop smuggling, but urged officials to create a stronger education program.

“The authorities, government must focus more attention on broadcasting by radio or TV, or spending time to go directly to the villages and educate about the bad effects on those who emigrate illegally,” said Mr Chankea.

According to Mr Luos, nearly 6,000 illegal Cambodian workers were de­ported from Thailand in January.

Provincial Court Prosecutor So Vat said Mr Khoeurn is now in pre-trial detention and, if found guilty, could face up to 15 years in prison.


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