Anti-human trafficking police arrested a woman Wednesday after they discovered she was running an unlicensed training center in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district that promised to send students to work in Japan or South Korea after paying for courses, an official said Thursday.
Chiv Phally, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said the Elite Vocational Training center had been operating for nearly four months in Stung Meanchey commune before the department received complaints.
“After we received complaints from four women…we contacted the recruitment agency and the Labor Ministry,” Major General Phally said. “[The ministry] told us the center was not registered and had never asked for a license.”
Maj. Gen. Phally said his department arrested the center’s owner, Nguon Sieng Hun, 25, on Wednesday evening and that she is still being held for questioning.
“We have no information on whether the owner sent any migrant workers to Japan, but it is difficult because she always lies to us,” he said, adding that he suspects Ms. Sieng Hun of covering for the center’s true owner.
He added that that the center only had 14 students, four of whom filed complaints.
After police interviewed the students, Maj. Gen. Phally said, they found the students had been asked to pay $15 for registration, $3,000 for courses and documents related to traveling abroad, and an additional $3,000 once they arrive abroad.
Luch Romduol, 22, one of the four students who filed complaints, said she became suspicious of the center after they told her she would be expected to pay different prices than previously agreed.
“Before, the owner told me to pay $3,000 and I would be sent to work in Japan, but the next day she told me she was confused and the $3,000 was only for fees in” Cambodia, Ms. Romduol said.
Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Cambodian Legal Education Center, said centers like the one in Meanchey district are common in Cambodia.
“It’s quite common that the training centers manipulate the information and confuse the public that they have licenses to send them overseas,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Chris Mueller)