The Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL) expressed concerns over the growing number of arrests of Cambodian workers by Thai authorities. The majority of migrant workers were returning to their Thai employers, following trips home for the Khmer New year holiday.

In a statement released late last week, CENTRAL said that the Cambodian migrant workers had been arrested on Thai soil for having unofficial or expired documents, and for illegally entering Thailand.

“Through the data we have recorded, we have seen a large uptick in the number of Cambodian migrant workers who were arrested. Between January and April, 1,297 Cambodians were arrested, including over 700 women ad more than 60 children,” it said.

“Many of those arrested have been tortured, often handcuffed and placed in pre-trial detention in cramped buildings,” it added.

CENTRAL has appealed to the Cambodian government to resolve the issue with the Thai counterparts, so that the workers are safe to travel, reside and work in the neighbouring country.

Labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.

However, Chou Bun Eng, Ministry of Interior secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, told The Post that the Cambodian labour ministry met with their Thai counterparts last week to discuss the issue.

“At the invitation of Thailand, I will lead an inter-institution delegation to inspect the situation of the migrant workers. I hope to be able to find some solutions,” she added.

Early in April, Bun Eng met for talks with several ministries to solve the problems of migrant workers who lack the correct documentation.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the arrests were understandable, as Cambodian workers must obey the laws of the country where they resided or work.

“If they violated the legal principles of their host country, including the criminal provisions and the immigration laws, they will be held accountable before the law,” he added.

“The Cambodian embassy in Thailand protects the rights of all migrant workers. We can provide them with legal services, and we can introduce agreements with other nations,” he concluded.