Recruitment Firm Under Fire over Training Center Death

Yon Mab was two months and twenty-three days into a three-month training course at the VC Manpower Co Ltd center in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district when she died. She was preparing to go to Malaysia, where she would work as a maid in order to send money home to her family in Siem Reap province.

One evening last month her father, Ream Ry, received a call from the company saying she had fallen ill earlier that day. He and his wife rushed to the capital overnight, he said. But when he arrived in Phnom Penh on July 5, a company representative told him his daughter was dead.

“The company told me she died of cancer, but then the doctors told me she died from dengue fever,” he said by telephone yesterday.

Rights workers yesterday called for the company to face investigation over Ms Mab’s death.

“The government must take immediate action…to find the reason behind the victim’s death,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labor project at the Community Legal Education Center, which conducting an investigation into allegations of abuse in the recruitment industry.

Doctors at Preah Kossamak hospital told Mr Ry his daughter died ten minutes after being admitted, he said. He claims company representatives tried to prevent him from seeing his daughter’s body, but that he saw her when she was being transported home for cremation. He said there were scars on her neck and face, as well as swelling and bruising.

“[The company] gave me 1,200,000 riel…and asked me not to say anything,” he said.

Local police inspected Ms Mab’s body when it was returned to Siem Reap, according to Srei Snam district police chief Meas Pidor. He said the body, and the circumstances of the woman’s death, made him question the official verdict.

“I want police from the scene to investigate this company,” he said.

Company representatives could not be reached yesterday.

Sen Sok district police chief Mak Hong yesterday denied allegations that VC Manpower’s director had fled the country ahead of an investigation into abuse at the firm’s training center.

“He is still working in the company,” he said, before declining to answer any questions about investigations into the company.

Last week the Labor Ministry announced plans for a new sub-decree on the regulation of recruitment firms, and published sections of the new law in khmer-language newspapers on Thursday. The published sections would prohibit recruitment firms from keeping workers confined during their training period, as well as stopping companies from lending money to workers and forcing them to work to pay it back.

 

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