Difficult to rescue illegal emigrants from Cambodia: police

By Hong Chieu, Ngoc Tai   August 24, 2022 | 01:05 am PT
Difficult to rescue illegal emigrants from Cambodia: police
40 Vietnamese workers who managed to escape from a Cambodian casino take a commemorative photo together in An Giang Province. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Khanh
Thousands of Vietnamese could have been smuggled to Cambodia to be exploited and rescuing them would be difficult, the police said.

Colonel Khong Ngoc Oanh from the Ministry of Public Security on Monday said most illegal emigrant workers were promised "easy jobs with high pay," only to be taken to casinos and other production facilities, where they have to work in an environment akin to imprisonment.

Without money or knowledge of the law, many illegal workers, who include teenagers, would find it difficult to escape on their own, he added.

Authorities said thousands of people might have been smuggled to Cambodia to be exploited, forced to work in incredibly harsh work environments, and paid salaries not agreed on.

Rescue operations are also difficult as most incidents happen beyond the border. Facilities are also hidden deep within the jungles, and often masquerade as production points. There is no way for outsiders to know what truly happens inside, and authorities also find it hard to verify information.

Oanh said the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments have already signed a bilateral agreement to fight human trafficking, where Cambodian authorities perform searches, verify information and provide documents regarding an incident, with the cooperation of Vietnamese counterparts.

Human trafficking mostly occur in poor areas, for example border localities. Victims of human trafficking can come from all walks of life, with many being poor people or even teenagers enticed by promises online.

Oanh said workers should tell their families exactly where they are going, with whom and when they are expected to return. Workers should not leave on their own, because once criminals have their hands on them, a rescue operation would be very difficult.

His statement came following the escape of 42 Vietnamese from a casino in Cambodia's Kandal Province due to imprisonment and torture, swimming through the Binh Di River of An Giang Province on Aug. 18 to escape. But only 40 people succeeded, with a 16-year-old boy drowning in the process and another recaptured by the casino.

On Tuesday, after initial investigations were completed, the 40 escapees only had to pay fines of between VND2-4 million ($85.24-170.48) and were allowed to return to their homes, spread across 20 different localities.

In the first half of this year, Vietnamese police in cooperation with Cambodian authorities have managed to rescue over 250 people tricked into becoming illegal workers.

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