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UN Rights Official Urges Cambodia to Ratify Convention To Protect Workers Abroad

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

Gelia, a maid works in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, June 17, 2009. At least two women have died in the custody of recruitment firms prior to scheduled departures for Malaysia.

Gelia, a maid works in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, June 17, 2009. At least two women have died in the custody of recruitment firms prior to scheduled departures for Malaysia.

This has led to increased reports of rights abuses in host countries, particularly Malaysia, where young Cambodian are sent to work as maids.

PHNOM PENH - A top UN diplomat has encouraged Cambodia to ratify a convention that would protect its migrant workers abroad.

James Heenan, from the office of human rights at the UN, said in a forum in Phnom Penh that Cambodian workers abroad often see their rights violated.

Cambodia has in recent years sought to remedy a problem of unemployment with the export of labor abroad.

This has led to increased reports of rights abuses in host countries, particularly Malaysia, where young Cambodian are sent to work as maids. Many have returned with tales of domestic abuse at the hands of their employers.

All told there are about 124,000 legal workers abroad in Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Heenan spoke to a gathering of about 150 parliamentarians, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

“Cambodia should ratify this treaty,” he said. “We think that, in view of the fact that the rights of migrants, particularly Cambodian migrant workers working abroad, are often violated.” The convention should be ratified with all Asean states, he said.

Ouk Damry, a National Assembly lawmaker, welcomed the suggestion, but he cautioned against it as a cure-all. “The harmonization will not act as quickly as we think and wish it to,” he said.
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