Three sex workers were deported to Vietnam last Friday after authorities located their families there, NGO officials said.
The young women, along with six others, were being held in the Pochentong detention center awaiting deportation after they had served one- or two-month jail terms.
The deported girls were among 14 prostitutes who were rescued in May by police in a series of brothel raids in Svay Pak, Phnom Penh’s red-light district. Nine were given jail terms, three were released and two are unaccounted for. The youngest said she was 13 years old.
After their rescue, the girls were handed over to the NGO Afesip, but were arrested on immigration charges in June.
Since their release from prison, the girls have been held at the Pochentong detention center.
Soeung Kamaryan, a law consultant for Afesip, confirmed on Monday that authorities deported the three girls on Friday.
Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Duy Huong, however, said he “has not been informed” of the deportations.
He did say that it is the policy of the Vietnamese government to cooperate with such deportations. “If there is any illegal [Vietnamese] immigrants in Cambodia, of course we will cooperate,” he said.
Meach Sophana, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Department, declined to confirm the deportations.
Nguyen Duy Huong said that once in Vietnam, the girls will be “returned to their families and re-integrated” into society.
Afesip adviser Pierre Legros criticized the prolonged detention of the girls. The place they are staying in is not a prison, he said, but there is no recreation area for the young women and Afesip has had to feed the girls three times a day.
(Additional reporting by Nou Sophors)