Trafficked Loggers Returned From Thailand

Twenty-nine loggers were sent back to Cambodia from Thailand on Sunday after the group was arrested by Thai soldiers while logging rosewood across the border from Banteay Meanchey province, an official said Monday.

Thai immigration police brought the group of 29 loggers, aged between 17 and 45, to the border after border soldiers picked them up on Saturday, said Sin Namyong, a Poipet City official in charge of returning migrant workers at the Poipet International Border Checkpoint.

They had been smuggled through two separate checkpoints in Banteay Meanchey province by traffickers and were then handed over to Thai middlemen and spent eight days logging rosewood, she said.

“They were cheated by the Thai middlemen in Thailand in order to cut rosewood for eight days until the Thai border soldiers arrested them on October 17 and they spent one day in jail,” Ms. Namyong said.

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, accused border soldiers at the Chamkar Kor and Svay Chek border checkpoints in Svay Chek district of colluding with the smugglers, and said the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) should be doing more to investigate.

“I appeal to the ACU to go and investigate this case because the ringleaders who are taking illegal migrants to work in Thailand are colluding with them [border soldiers],” Mr. Chankea said.

“This leads to migrant workers being shot and killed or arrested, punished or imprisoned by Thai border soldiers,” he said. “We know [the border soldiers’] names and their identities from the victims… Only the ACU can work against them.”

Officials from the two checkpoints and the ACU could not be reached for comment.

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