Three foreigners, who were reportedly forced to work in a Chinese company in Sihanoukville, were “rescued” by National Police, while the Philippine Embassy in Cambodia has requested authorities to rescue four of their nationals trapped in a compound in Koh Kong province.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Police Chief Major General Chuon Narin said yesterday the three foreigners were not detained, were not victims of human trafficking, and were not forced to work.
He said the girl friend of one of the three foreigners, an American, had called Interior Minister Sar Kheng’s team hotline to seek assistance from authorities to intervene.
“The three foreigners were questioned after they were rescued from the place they were staying and working by a special police team. The foreigners said they were working and staying at the place without any problems for them,” he said.
“The three foreigners are now at the Security Department of the National Police in Phnom Penh for further questioning. They are safe but they do not have proper documents,” Maj Gen Narin added.
Ministry of Interior spokesman General Khieu Sopheak identified the three foreigners as Cambodian-American Sath Chap, 35, American Daniel Wayne Scott, 43, and Indonesian Plasidia Retta Riama, 31.
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Gen Sopheak said the three foreigners were found on August 18 in their rooms in Sihanoukville.
“Their rooms were not locked on the outside and there was no one guarding them,” he said.
“When Sath Chap was questioned, he said he entered Cambodia through the Phnom Penh International Airport in August last year for tourism. He worked for four computer companies. After working for the third company for half a month, the company transferred him to work at the Jinbei 4 Computer Company in Village 4, Buon commune, Sihanoukville, where the recruiter received a $4,000 referral and Sath Chap was paid a salary of $900.
“After working for the company for three months, he wanted to quit but he was on a one-year contract.
“At each workplace, he received a full salary, and he was not beaten or imprisoned but was not allowed to go out,” Gen Sopheak said.
As for Scott and Retta Riama, who is his wife, Gen Sopheak said they came to Cambodia through the Phnom Penh International Airport in August 2019, and Scott volunteered as a teacher for two years in Phnom Penh.
Stephanie Arzate, US Embassy spokesperson said the safety and security of US citizens abroad is the US government’s highest priority.
“The embassy works to provide appropriate consular services as quickly as possible to all US citizens who require them. Due to privacy considerations, we cannot comment on any specific case,” she said.
On the request by the Philippine Embassy in Cambodia for authorities to rescue four people trapped in a compound in Koh Kong’s Union Development Group project, Koh Kong governor Mithona Phouthorng said yesterday that she has not received any information on the four Philippine nationals being detained in the Long Bay Casino.
“I do not know about this case yet, however, I will investigate this case in time to save these four Filipino victims. I will send a professional officers to investigate soon,” she said.
The embassy’s letter, dated August 8, and confirmed by Cambodian police, said four Philippine nationals were being detained on the fourth floor of a building within the Long Bay Casino complex in Koh Kong’s Kiri Sakor district. The embassy did not know the building number but said the four were being kept in room number 508, and they were asked to pay “a large sum of money” to leave.
“In this regard, the Embassy requests the kind and immediate response of the general commissariat of the national police in facilitating the immediate release of four Filipinos from the employment of the unknown Chinese company, the return of their passports, salaries and the transfer of them to a safe area,” says the letter, which was circulated on social media.
Moeun Tola, director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights said cases of human trafficking and scams have been surfacing lately, and it is important for the government to have a clear plan in place to take timely action.
“We cannot allow this to happen anymore, because it hurts the national honour and it affects the Cambodian economy. If Cambodia falls on the US blacklist, Cambodia will lose some aid,” he said.
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