Worker Recruitment Agency Shut by Anti-Trafficking Department

A Phnom Penh labor recruitment agency was shut and three of its employees were arrested on Tuesday after the firm allegedly took money from would-be migrant workers and failed to set them up with jobs abroad, an official said.

Police from the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department arrested the employees of Khmer Service Recruitment at the company’s office in Dangkao district’s Dangkao commune on Tuesday morning, district police chief Chim Sitha said.

Three people who had sought jobs in Japan submitted complaints to the anti-human trafficking department after the agency failed to find them jobs and said it would refer them to another recruitment company, he said.

The company had opened for business recently, Mr. Sitha said, although he was not sure when, or what type of jobs the complainants were seeking.

The three recruitment agency employees were being detained for questioning at the anti-human trafficking department, he said.

The heads of the department and Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Khmer Service Recruitment was not on the ministry’s online list of recruitment agencies certified by the government to send workers abroad, which was released earlier this year with the aim of preventing potential migrants from being exploited by unlicensed companies that might put them in danger.

But a company’s placement on the list was no guarantee that it would not exploit workers, said Moeun Tola, head of the labor rights group Central.

Being licensed did not reveal whether the agency had “a record of exploitation,” such as illegally confining workers or committing other abuses, Mr. Tola said.

In addition, labor regulations did not include provisions on agency subcontracting or strict penalties for agencies that violate workers’ rights, he said.

Mr. Tola recommended the government share with laborers a complete picture, not just a rosy one, of the risks of working abroad.

“The government should do some kind of citizen education about safe migration,” he said. “We should tell the truth, the negative and positive points.”

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