Tag Archives: human trafficking

Letter to the Prime Minister of Cambodia

Kingdom of Cambodia

Nation Religion King


Humbly Respected

Samdech Akak  PunheaChakrei Heng Samrin Hun Sen

Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia

Thru :
Samdech Akak  PunheaChakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly of Kingdom of Cambodia

Sub. : Request for Samdech Prime Minister examines and take legal actions to ensure safety

for Cambodian female migrant workers.

Ref. : -Sub-Decree No. 190 of the Royal Government of Cambodia, dated 17 August 2011

-Consultation with Samdech Prime Minister at the National Assembly on 14 October 2011.

Respected Samdech Prime Minister,

In the name of parliamentarians, we would like to welcome to the authorities efforts and measures undertaken to crackdown on the office of T & P Recruitment Company based in Kampong Chhnang province on 09 October 2011 with which twenty-seven (27) female recruits, including eleven (11) minors aged between 14 and 17 years old were rescued.

According to our observation and monitoring, we have realized that the situation of migrant workers in the Kingdom of Cambodia has apparently deteriorated which decisively requires highest attention and strictest measures to crack down other recruitment agencies due to the fact that T& P Recruitment Company was not the sole company responsible for such illegal recruitment, human trafficking and child labor exploitation. On 04 October 2011, according to The Cambodia Daily News, Volume 49/90, dated 05 October 2011 and Cable Network News (CNN), the Royal Gendarmerie (royal military police) launched a crackdown operation on the Century (Cambodia) Manpower Co.Ltd.,located in Khan SenSok of Phnom Penh Capital which led to the rescue of twenty-six (26) female recruits, including five (05) minors aged between 13 to 17 years old who were illegally confined against their will.

Evidently, such repeated crackdown events have shown additional evidences which reflectively substantiated and reinforced previous accusations concerning illegal activities being carried out private recruitment agencies in Cambodia. At the same time, accidents and deaths of female migrant workers reportedly occurred in both the Kingdom of Cambodia and Malaysia for which VC Manpower & Cambodian Labor Supply and other recruitment agencies were allegedly implicated in these tragic incidents.

In August 2011, a non-governmental human rights organization helped rescue fifty-four (54) Cambodian female domestic workers in Malaysia who expressed their endurable sufferings and horrific misery as they were subject to harsh physical and sexual abuses, forced labor as well as the removal and confinement of their passports.

In recent years, the recruitment and sending of migrant workers to Malaysia and Thailand has drastically increased, however it has been observed that a supervisory mechanism for sending migrant workers to foreign countries, in particular domestic workers in Malaysia is not strictly controlled. As result of that private recruitment companies failed to uphold employment contractual conditions as agreed upon between them and relevant State institutions. Furthermore, these recruitment companies defied to resolve problems through compromising principles and as such violated provisions of Sub-decree No. 190 of the Royal Government of Cambodia which are negatively affecting interests and violating labor rights of migrant workers as guaranteed by the Law on Labor of Kingdom of Cambodia and other ILO International Conventions on Labor.

It is observed that officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and Ministry of Interior apparently fail to fulfill their duties and law enforcement mandate to investigate and control activities of recruitment companies which in turn encouraged them to carry out activities bypassing existing laws, for instance, abuses of human rights and labor rights, illegal confinement and labor exploitation through sending out migrant workers to foreign countries. Certain officials were also accused of involving in and receiving personal interests from recruitment agencies.

Whereas the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies has failed to fulfill its mandate and obligations in accordance with the prescribed Statute and Internal Rules in monitoring and supervising activities of its members, therefore it shall be legally liable for its negligence or could be conspired in dishonest act.

As stated above, we would like to request the Royal Government of Cambodia to take effective measures to implement the following recommendations:

– Control private recruitment companies that breached contractual terms with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Sub-decree No.190 of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as other international labor conventions.

– Take legal action against any recruitment companies or competent authorities who have found conspired, without any tolerance.

– Create a commission to draft a memorandum of understanding by guaranteeing employment conditions, including living conditions and recruitment standards for migrant workers, such as type of work, place of work, working hours, salaries, health and workplace insurances and dormitory. The MoU should be similar to that of MoU was signed between the Malaysian government and Indonesian government in June 2011.

– Control recruitment advertisements on all media outlets, in order to avoid fraud and malicious intent.

– Royal embassies of the Kingdom of Cambodia to foreign countries should establish a mechanism to control and inspect workplace of migrant workers, in order to ensure the respect for labor rights, labor conditions, especially welfare and protection of interests, and facilitation to the issuance of new passports in case of loss and extension and other certification documents to migrant workers with free of charge.

– Abolish debt bondage and forced recruitment by guaranteeing the respect for and observance of ILO Convention No. 189 on the Protection and Safety of Workers. It also addresses the issue of costs of documents, of debts, of minimum salary, of working hours and welfare of workers. It is imperative that Cambodia is viewed as a country that is not engaged in debt bondage and of forced recruitment.

– Develop vocational training programme in response to both domestic and international markets so as to compete with ASEAN labor market due in 2015.

We strongly believe that Samdech Prime Minister will take positive and effective measures in realizing stated recommendations so as to improve the implementation of the Law on Labour and other international labour conventions, situations of migrant workers, in particular female workers, in order to value, honor and dignity of Cambodian women who are the backbone of national economy.

Please accept, Samdech Prime Minister, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Phnom Penh, 14 October 2011

Seen and submitted toSamdechAkakMohaSenaBateiTecho Hun SenPrime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia examinePhnom Penh, October 2011

President of the National Assembly

Copied to:– Ministry of Royal Palace- Ministry of Interior- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

– Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training

– Ministry of Women and Veterans Affairs

– National and International Human Rights Organizations to Cambodia

– Archives

Cambodian Children and Women Are not Slaves

After reading the article “Maid Agency Rescues 22 Women, Girls”  on the front page of the Cambodia Daily on October 5th, 2011, I began to reflect: Cambodia runs the risk of being seen as not the Kingdom of Wonder but a country that turns its back to its most valuable human potentials.
Sending Cambodian children and our poorest young women to Malaysia as domestic workers must be suspended temporarily until mechanisms for the protection of the rights of the workers are ensured.Police and the Courts have taken action to close down and prosecute the owner as staff of Century Manpower but this case by case action is just putting a band aid to a very serious wound that is a serious violation of human rights, debt bondage and modern slavery.
Indonesia stopped sending domestic workers to Malaysia for two years and now a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the two countries that address the most fundamental rights and protection of the domestic workers.

Free Malaysia Today: Cambodia’s warrior woman

Stephanie Sta Maria | September 9, 2011

From thousands of miles away, Mu Sochua is fighting for the well being of every Cambodian domestic worker in Malaysia.


KUALA LUMPUR: Cambodian opposition MP Mu Sochua moves like a feline. Silent, solitary and very much alert. So when she arrived at the Tenaganita headquarters she indulged in a quiet moment of observation before being spotted.

Then the greetings gushed forth with the most ebullient coming from seven young Cambodian girls who could not believe that the voice they have only heard on the radio was standing before them.

The seven are among 41 domestic workers rescued by Tenaganita from abusive employers this year alone. Sochua, 57, came to Malaysia to hear their stories and to seek the truth behind the sudden death of another worker in Penang.

Choy Pich, 19, was found dead in her employer’s house on July 17. Police ruled that she died of pneumonia but Sochua believes that the teenager was beaten to death and is determined to prove it.

Any other guest on such a controversial mission to Malaysia would likely be intercepted by immigration officials and deported. But Sochua’s low-key movements enabled her to enter the country without any hassle.

Continue reading on Free Malaysia Today.


A day in the life of Mu Sochua

Video created by Philip Skoczkowski. Check out his amazing work at www.skoczkowski.com

A Day In The Life Of Mu Sochua from Philip Skoczkowski on Vimeo.

Mother of Alleged Rape Victim Retracts Her Story- My Thoughts

The alleged victim was interviewed on Candle Light Radio on the 4th of April clearly indicating that she was desperate for help. She describes the assault and makes this appeal:

On 30 March, the father of my employer came to the house when everyone has gone out for work. He raped me. I appeal to all Cambodian women who want to come to Malaysia to think carefully and not make the mistake I made. I thought I was coming for a good job but in Malaysia I am a victim of sexual abuse. I want the government to help me return home as soon as possible“.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

The mother of a 27 year-old woman who was recruited by the Champa employment agency and sent to Malaysia to work as a maid, retracted everything she told reporters at my office on Monday 4 April.

What really happened?

To my mind, one word says it all: pressure.

Facts that make me believe so:

The mother retracted her allegation of rape of her daughter: 1/ at a press conference organized by the recruitment agency; 2/ at the Ministry of Interior; 3/ with a thumb printed letter by her daughter , officiated by the Embassy of Cambodia, in Malaysia; 4/ the employer is paying US$ 2,000 for her return to Cambodia.

These are steps that any government with true will to protect its citizens sent abroad for employment would do in the case of such allegation:

1/the Cambodian government should do is to collaborate with the Malaysian police by getting the mother of the alleged victim to Malaysia to provide her daughter support;

2/ Cambodian officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia and the Malaysian police with NGOs can form a team to conduct a thorough investigation of the alleged rape;

3/ Her safe return to Cambodia should be arranged by the Cambodian authorities and not paid by the employer;

4/ If she needs to go back to Malaysia to appear in court, the Cambodian authorities should make all arrangements and ensure that proper translation and other support services are provided to her and to her family;

5/in Cambodia, the government should investigate the Champa employment agency. This is not the first time, Champa agency is suspected of wrong doings.

Once these steps are conducted, then the facts should be contained in an official report made available to the public. The investigation of Champa Manpower and its allied agency in Malaysia should be investigated.

As an elected member of parliament, I intend to ask for the report of investigation and the facts, even if I know no investigation has been conducted.

I have reached out to the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia and to a network of Malaysian NGOs dealing with migrant workers in the region, to investigate the case. It can not end with the retraction of the victim.

I will continue to pursue this case and other cases as I believe that we are on the right track to crack down a million dollar business that uses our women, men and children as objects.

I call on all who believe in defending women’s rights and the prosecution of human traffickers and those who want to see safe working conditions for women to send their concerns to the Malaysian government to investigate the case and to provide protection to the alleged victim.

The silencing of women migrant workers is against the law, it is inhumane and it further supports a human trade that should be condemned. Such treatment of alleged victims of violence and exploitation by those in power to cover up the real truth is very common, even in countries ruled by law. State conspiracy to cover facts or to fail to conduct proper investigation of complaints from alleged victims of violence against women is a very serious matter. There exists UN mechanisms to file complaints related to violence against women and these mechanisms should be used to ensure proper measures by such states to protect women’s human rights and to provide justice to women.

Cambodia has signed the CEDAW Optional Protocol, an instrument that can be used by victims.


SRP warns Malaysia of labour firm

Friday, 18 March 2011. Matt Lundy. The Phnom Penh Post.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party issued a letter on Wednesday to Malaysia’s ambassador to Cambodia, requesting the embassy alert its government to the alleged activities of T&P Co Ltd, a labour recruitment agency accused of imprisoning its trainees.

Photo by: Hong Menea

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay wrote the letter – which details the accusations levelled against the company, in addition to the SRP’s investigations earlier this week – after receiving information that T&P had sent some of its trainees to Malaysia.

“We hope that your Embassy will … help in preventing these violations of human rights by informing your government as well as [raising] this situation with the Cambodian government so that a very close monitoring system can be set up in order to stop all forms of exploitation and abuses of the workers,” the letter read.

Deputy Head of Mission Raja Saiful Ridzuwan confirmed that the Malaysian embassy received the letter yesterday and said the embassy would issue a response within the next couple days. He said he briefly discussed the letter’s contents with Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Pengiran Hj Mohd Hussein Datuk Pengiran Hj Mohd Tahir Nasruddin.

The T&P recruitment agency has come under scrutiny since the death of a 35-year-old trainee in the company’s offices earlier this month. Several trainees have said they were denied leaves of absence from the company’s headquarters, including a 31-year-old trainee who broke both legs while trying to escape.

Son Chhay said yesterday that both countries’ governments had a responsibility to migrant workers, given the raft of human rights abuses that Cambodian workers have faced in Malaysia.

“I think [the Malaysian embassy] should be aware of what’s happening here, and be in contact with the labour ministry over there,” he said. “I think it’s a weakness in our system…and the irresponsibility of the Malaysian government to migrant workers.”

Ridzuwan said the embassy had no responsibility in domestic matters, such as investigations into T&P.

“There’s nothing much we can do,” he said. “I believe that the responsibility of the maids under training is on the government of Cambodia. Our responsibility is to issue visas to work in Malaysia.”

Ridzuwan said he believed “some workers” had been sent to Malaysia by T&P.

Cambodia: Trafficking domestic workers to Malaysia

Spero News. IRIN. Thursday, March 17, 2011.

Investigations by NGOs in Cambodia have found that companies are recruiting girls as young as 13 to work in Malaysian households, confining them in overcrowded and unhygienic “training centres”, forging birth certificates to raise their age, and paying finders’ fees to brokers.

Hou Vuthy, a deputy director-general at the Ministry of Labour, said the government is moving swiftly to address the abuses and that “vast improvements” have been made.

He estimated it would take about three more years to fully control the recruiting companies, some of whom employed unscrupulous agents who “cheated” illiterate village residents. He stressed, however, that the government had already managed to eliminate the illegal recruiters.

Attention has focused on the burgeoning industry, and the firm T&P Co. Ltd. in particular, since one woman died at its “training” facility in suburban Phnom Penh and another broke bones in both of her legs while trying to escape from its third floor balcony.

She got entangled in the razor wire around the second floor, and then fell to the pavement, neighbours said. The three people who carried her off the street and comforted her while awaiting an ambulance were later summonsed to the local police station and interrogated by officers who accused them of colluding with the “trainees” to help them escape, neighbours said.

Tola Moeun, head of the Labour Programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said the Ministry of Labour and the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection were more concerned with protecting the recruitment agencies than the welfare of the more than 20,000 Cambodians who had been recruited to work as domestic workers in Malaysia.

He said that in most cases he had investigated, the women were under 21, and many were under 18. He alleged that officials at the commune level were falsifying birth certificates so that passports with false dates of birth could be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Labour Ministry’s Vuthy admitted this had been happening, saying his office had no control over local officials and that it could not verify the authenticity of birth certificates that were delivered by the recruiting companies. He said, however, that the Ministry of Interior had cracked down on village and commune officials who forged documents. “That does not happen any more,” he said.

Government complicity?

MP and former minister for women’s affairs Mu Sochua has accused the government of complicity in trafficking.

“The Cambodian government has effectively legalized human trafficking,” Mu Sochua said. She also said the government was protecting the recruiting companies because some of its members might have financial interests in them.

Local media have reported more than 90 recruiting companies registered with the government, but Vuthy said there were 33, though they operate about 100 “training centres” in and around Phnom Penh. When asked if any companies were connected to the government, he replied: “It is legal in Cambodia for wives of politicians to run businesses,” but added, ownership is irrelevant because all companies must abide by the law.

Mu Sochua said some of companies brazenly violate the law. “The girls are being bought, documents are being forged; they are being imprisoned and abused in Cambodia, and then they are sent into an environment where there are no safeguards to protect them. Often their passports are confiscated and they are confined in households.”
The Cambodia Human Rights and Development Association (Adhoc) warned in September 2010 that its investigation found severe cases of abuse at “training centres” in Phnom Penh and in Malaysia. Passports were being confiscated, domestic workers were forcibly detained, and some were beaten, raped and tortured, Adhoc said.

Lobbying for legal age reduction

“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” said deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, Phil Roberston. “There is also an overland route for smuggling Cambodian girls into Malaysia through Thailand.”

He also warned that efforts to lobby the Malaysian government to lower the legal age of domestic workers from 21 to 18 were a “recipe for disaster”. “Our research has found that the younger the maid the more vulnerable they are to abuse and exploitation,” he said.

Vuthy said reports in Malaysian media that the Cambodian government was lobbying for a reduction in the age were fabricated by recruiting companies attempting to pressure Kuala Lumpur. Neither the Cambodian government nor the Malaysian government would give into their pressure, he said.

Recruitment companies in Malaysia set their sights on Cambodia in 2009 after Indonesia announced a freeze on sending new domestic workers to Malaysia, following reports of extreme abuse there.

Cambodian workers are more vulnerable because of the language barrier, greater cultural differences, the extreme poverty many came from, and the distance between the two countries, Robertson said.

Roberston said efforts by the international community to train Cambodian officials about trafficking had had little success. “Some top level officials go to seminar after seminar, while lower level officials receive little or no information on what trafficking is and how to prevent it. There is also a bigger problem of corruption among government officials, which is what we are seeing in relation to these labour recruitment schemes seeking to send maids to Malaysia.”

Vuthy sees things differently. He said his ministry was struggling with a surge in demand and a lack of experience and resources to monitor the industry. It was only last year that it produced its first orientation manual for migrant workers, he said.

“We’re learning quickly,” he said.