Seventeen Cambodians Repatriated From Malaysia

Thirteen Cambodians trafficked to Malaysia in 2015 and last year were to be repatriated on Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced, and another four were returned on Monday after working in Malaysia as maids—a violation of a government ban on sending domestic workers to the country.

According to a pair of ministry statements issued on Wednesday, the 13 due to arrive in Phnom Penh were “cheated” into working as vendors or maids.

As of 4 p.m., ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said eight of the 13 had arrived and that the rest were due to land at the Phnom Penh International Airport soon. He could not be reached later.

Mr. Sounry said the returnees had endured difficult working conditions while in Malaysia, receiving little or no pay, but were not physically abused.

A separate statement from the ministry on Monday said four other Cambodians were repatriated that day after having been sent to Malaysia to work as maids by an unnamed company.

Mr. Sounry said on Wednesday that he did not know the company’s name.

So Vandy, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s human trafficking department, said he will ask the four the name of the company when he questions them as part of the investigation.

The government banned sending maids to Malaysia in 2011 after mounting reports that they were being abused by both their overseas employers and the local recruitment agencies sending them there. But many Cambodians have continued to make their way to Malaysia to find jobs as domestic workers regardless, hoping to earn more money than they could at home.

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