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Lawmaker Urges More Cooperation To Prevent Force Fishing Labor

FILE - A fisherman sits as fishing vessels are seen docked after fishing operations stopped at a port in Samut Sakhon province, Thailand.

Cambodian authorities must cooperate with Thailand to reform illegal fishing practices there, a lawmaker says.

It must also work to ensure that some 230 Cambodian fisherman recently rescued from illegal operations off the coast of Indonesia are supported and are not forced to return to a similar fate, Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told “Hello VOA.”

Cambodia must strengthen its cooperation with Thailand, where many Cambodians migrate to work, both legally and illegally, to ensure their rights are protected, she said.

“'There must be cooperation between Cambodia and the Royal Government of Thailand through negotiations in order to protect human rights of every citizen, especially migrant workers,” said Mu Sochua, who is in charge of women, children, and migration in the office of minority leader at the National Assembly.

Her office received 10 complaints in May and June of cases involving Cambodians who paid fees to find work in Thailand and then either didn’t get the job they were promised or have gone missing.

The governments of Cambodia and Thailand “have not been talking seriously to put strict conditions” on labor practices, she said. “They tend to deal with the problem case by case…with no clear policy.”

In the meantime, people need to be given job skills, which would improve safe migrant work, she said. Otherwise, their low skill leaves people open to exploitation. Those who are rescued and returned home need to be given more skills, too, or they will be forced to migrate again and be put in jeopardy again, she said.

Sreav Kry, a former worker who just returned to the country last month, is a good example. He said that he left for Thailand voluntarily, but later was forced to work on a Thai trawler for nearly 10 months before he was rescued. He now has few skills to start a new profession, and no means to sue the company that took his money in the first place.