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Lawmaker Investigating 10 Deaths of Cambodians in Malaysia

This picture taken on January 19, 2011 shows a young woman reading advertisements for "maids wanted" outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua is investigating the deaths of 10 Cambodian maids in Malaysia to prepare a complaint to the country’s parliamentary human rights committee.

The 10 women died from illnesses or suicide in a country that has earned wide condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers, said An Bunhak, president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies.

Other Cambodian women have returned with stories of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their employers, and Cambodia has banned workers from travel there pending investigations into allegations of abuse there and in Cambodian recruitment agencies.

Mu Sochua said she was clarifying documents with the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia before submitting a complaint to the Malaysian National Assembly’s Human Rights Committee.

An Bunhak said the group was cooperating with Mu Sochua’s efforts.

“It is very good for helping protect the basic rights of our laborers in Malaysia,” he said. “We requested that the Malaysian authorities perform autopsies and that parents or family members were invited to directly see the autopsies in Malaysia.”

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labor program, said the organization is seeking more detailed information of the deaths of the workers.