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Few Protections for Migrant Workers: Expert

From left to right: Ya Na Wuth, Ngem Kim Hoy, and An Bun Hak.
From left to right: Ya Na Wuth, Ngem Kim Hoy, and An Bun Hak.

Migrant workers abroad who face abuse from their employers have little recourse, a safety advocate said Monday.

“Who should a victim complain against, the company or her employer there?” said Ya Navuth, executive director of Caram Cambodia, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Thousands of Cambodians migrate to work abroad in places like Thailand or Malaysia; many have returned to report abuse at the hands of their employers. The government has yet to create laws or mechanisms that would help them abroad.

However, it remains difficult to find evidence of the offenses when committed in host countries, Ya Navuth said.

“If a worker dares complain while there, his or her employer will terminate the working permit, turning him or her into an illegal migrant worker,” he said.

More than 30 recruitment agencies are now registered at the Ministry of Labor, with more than half of them sending workers to Malaysia, according to ministry figures.

Nhem Kimhoy, an official with the ministry, told “Hello VOA” that Cambodian embassies abroad work with companies and employers to sort out worker complaints.

More than 100 complaints from workers abroad have been solved so far, he said, although there have been some that have not been.

An Bunhak, chairman of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said migrant workers should have insurance through a recruitment agency and can be compensated for abuse by employers.

“No victim goes uncompensated for damages, or even the loss of life,” he said.