Indonesia Urges Cambodia to Cooperate Against Human Trafficking

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Indonesia has sought closer cooperation with the Cambodian government to eradicate human trafficking after dozens of Indonesians were trafficked to Cambodia through employment scams.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met with Cambodian Interior Minister Krolahom Sar Kheng in Phnom Penh on Thursday to discuss cooperation to eradicate human trafficking, which has been rife in Cambodia.

The two sides agreed on the need to expedite their agreement on the eradication of cross-border crimes. Cambodia also agreed to expedite the repatriation of rescued Indonesian victims.

A total of 62 Indonesian nationals were rescued from an online scam company in Sihanoukville last week. Cambodia has agreed to repatriate them in stages depending on flight availability, with 12 deported to Indonesia on Friday.

“There are indeed flight limitations, but we can [start the repatriation] as early as today by prioritizing vulnerable groups, women, and children,” Krolahom Sar Kheng was quoted as saying by an Indonesian news agency.

At least 298 Indonesians fell prey to fraud and human trafficking in Cambodia as of July this year, an increase from the 119 Indonesians last year, according to data from the Directorate for the Protection of Indonesian Citizens.

Marsudi also met with the Cambodian national police chief on Tuesday to discuss cooperation in the management of the remaining victims who have not been rescued, as well as in law enforcement and prevention of similar cases.

“Cooperation to prevent human trafficking must be strengthened between Indonesia and Cambodia,” she said, according to Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Anis Hidayah, an activist for Jakarta-based Migrant Care, said that Indonesian workers were enticed by job listings on social media offering a $1,000 monthly salary to work in Cambodia.

They were initially offered jobs as clerks and call-center agents, but later were forced to work for online scam companies for $500 per month or not paid at all. Workers were also subject to heavy fines if they failed to meet targets or quit.

“They were subjected to physical violence. The conditions are similar to slavery,” she said, according to Benar News.

One of the victims, who spoke to the news outlet on the condition of anonymity, said that workers were “beaten and given electric shocks” if they did not fulfill their targets and had their passports burned by the employers.

Earlier in February, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on a Chinese national who claimed to have been victimized by a fraudulent internet job post. He was trafficked to Sihanoukville in Cambodia by a criminal gang, and then coerced into working for numerous telemarketing fraud schemes.

His captors began extracting blood from him after he refused to work, which put his life in danger. The Chinese embassy in Cambodia later revealed his surname as Li and confirmed parts of the report.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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