78 migrant workers rescued in Saudi Arabia

78 migrant workers rescued in Saudi Arabia

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A group of Cambodian migrant workers tricked into working in Saudi Arabia have been rescued and are being repatriated with 29 of the 78 victims safely back in the country as of last Friday. The remainder are waiting for documentation to leave.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Labour Katta Orn said yesterday that the Ministry is conducting an investigation to expose the perpetrators behind the employment scam.

“The ministry is investigating the company that sent the workers and seeking documents and all related information,” said Orn. “When the investigation reveals who are behind this, the ministry will evaluate the case and take legal action against all those involved.”

He added, “The ministry strongly opposes the illegal employment of workers for jobs overseas and companies that send workers abroad illegally. In these types of cases, the only victims are the workers.”

He said that the ministry has also educated and enforced the law against those who commit this type illegal activity without exception to ensure respect for the rights and interests of workers.

Heng Sour, Minister of Labour, confirmed on April 18 that 78 Cambodian migrant workers were deceived into working in Saudi Arabia, but have now been rescued.

On that same day, he also talked with the victims via online video.

“I was really relieved to meet and talk with them personally, and to check that their safety is guaranteed,” Sour added.

“Preliminary information on the case of the 78 Cambodians, whose brokers cheated workers to go to Saudi Arabia, coming from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as well as the Cambodian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia is that the migrant workers have been contacted and rescued and plane tickets are being prepared for their return to Cambodia,” said Sour.

According to Sour, of the 78 victims 51 were in the Jeddah, 15 in Riyadh, and 12 in Dammam.

He said all were in a safe house, awaiting return to Cambodia. During this waiting period, Ouk Sarun, Ambassador of Cambodia to Saudi Arabia, is providing food and accommodation.

In a previous interview with Khmer Times, Dy The Hoya, Programme Officer at the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said that migrant workers’ rights in general have not improved much over the past year.

He noted that some migrant workers face rights violations, the arbitrary loss of jobs, and the complicated processing of legal documents and work permits. Other migrant workers are cheated by employers who don’t pay salaries or deprive them of job benefits.

Last year, the ministry provided employment opportunities to work abroad to 1,356,616 people, of whom 552,851 are women.

Around 1,262,175 migrant workers are in Thailand, comprising 93.3% of all migrant workers, while 6.97% are in South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

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