Leaky Border Still Being Monitored Closely, Officials Say

Nearly 100,000 migrant workers were deported by Thai authorities after crossing illegally into Thailand this year, but Cambodian border authorities said yesterday that there were programs in place to crack down on those who trafficked workers out of the country.

Still, Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean admitted yesterday that police had only found three cases involving people smugglers so far this year. “As far as I know, we have arrested about three cases and sent [those involved] to the provincial court,” Mr Hean said.

Mr Hean said provincial police investigating the three cases had interviewed workers, whom they managed to round up before they could cross into Thailand, and had compiled reports relating to the backgrounds of other smuggling ringleaders.

He added that police had not yet tracked down the ringleaders, but had forwarded information to other provincial police departments, so they could keep a look out for them.

The Banteay Meanchey provincial labor department said on Monday that Thai authorities rounded up 97,042 illegal Cambodian migrant workers between January and October and deported them via Poipet international border checkpoint.

The number represents an average of more than 300 illegal workers sent back to Poipet per day, and is already about 6,000 higher than the total number of illegal workers sent back through the border crossing in all of 2009.

Rights groups have called on authorities to monitor the border more effectively and provide more education about the risks involved in attempting to cross the border illegally.

Dy Phan, director of the northwest RCAF border relations office, said yesterday that an education campaign was being conducted to help villagers understand that if they wanted to work in Thailand, then they should do it legally.

Mr Phan said the migrant workers were often smuggled with the assistance of Thai and Cambodian traffickers on each side of the border.

“Some Cambodian people are brought to Thailand by the smugglers and if no agreement existed [between some Thais and Cambodians] they would not get into Thailand easily,” Mr Phan said.

Chhouk Ang, chief of the Banteay Meanchey provincial 911 border police, said yesterday that police were continuing to monitor those trying to cross illegally into Thailand.

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