Six More Offices to Open for Thai-Bound Workers

Passport offices will be set up in six more provinces in an effort to ease the remigration process for Cambodian workers heading back to Thailand, according to a Ministry of Interior official.

Mao Chandara, director of the Ministry of Interior’s passport department, said the new offices are being established in Kampong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, and Takeo.

“These are the big provinces with a lot of people going to work abroad,” he said. “Now we are preparing some equipment—computers to install information, cameras, and the like.”

It follows an announcement last week that similar offices would be established in the border provinces of Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin and Koh Kong.

According to a July 14 joint directive issued and signed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, all 10 provincial bureaus have been given the power to process migrant workers’ documents.

About 250,000 migrant workers returned to Cambodia last month following a crackdown on illegal labor by the Thai junta.

The government cut the price of passports from $124 to $4 in a bid to encourage migrant workers to obtain legal documents before returning to Thailand, yet thousands of workers have been turned back at the border by Thai authorities after attempting to re-enter illegally.

Thy Lundy, director of the Pailin department of labor, said provincial labor departments now had the capacity to issue workers with “migrant-worker status” certificates, which are required to obtain a passport. Previously, the certificates were only available from the Ministry of Labor.

“They just need an employment contract or a temporary working pass to get the certificate,” Mr. Lundy said.

Kousoum Saroeuth, the governor of Banteay Meanchey province, said that with Thai authorities still deporting large numbers of Cambodians, it was important that migrant workers used the new passport offices to legalize their employment in Thailand.

“[At the moment] 300 to 400 illegal migrant workers are being sent back every day on average,” he said.

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