Cambodia is working hard to clean up its reputation for a country where overseas workers become the victims of nefarious parties. With the number of human trafficking going up in the underground online gambling sector and the United States issuing a warning to businesses to think twice before setting up shop in the country, authorities have had to get busy.
According to a report by The Bangkok Post, 60 casino workers from Thailand, who became the victim of casino human traffickers, have been successfully returned to their home country after authorities intervened. The workers were lured through a job posting for a gambling operation in Sihanoukville, an underbelly economic zone in Cambodia where most of the crimes involving human trafficking and illegal gambling happen.
From day one, workers were subject to demeaning conditions, with many refusing to comply and to receive beatings as a result. The captors, though, had no intention of putting the workers to work but rather holding them for ransom.
Relatives of the victims immediately alerted Thai police, which coordinated their efforts with their Cambodian counterparts. It’s said that Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stepped in the matter personally to ensure that the victims would be aided.
Traffickers Show No Remorse in Cambodia and Beyond
Cambodia has been negatively painted in the international press, with the incidents involving human trafficking skyrocketing. Earlier in November, three Thai women were also saved from an illegal gambling operation, the media outlet said.
The operator was based in Poipet, another Cambodian city close to the border with Thailand. Their captor demanded a $300 ransom from relatives across the border, threatening to sell the victims if his conditions were not met.
While these incidents may seem isolated and unrelated, they depict a much broader picture of regional workers falling victims to various nefarious parties in Cambodia. One study released by Thompson Reuters Foundation earlier this year found out that human traffickers have begun targeting tourists who were unable to return home because of the pandemic. With no escape due to closed borders and lack of air travel, many more people may still be in forced labor in Cambodia’s many illegal operations.
The good news is that authorities have been able to act more freely in Sihanoukville, having traffickers on the run. Reports by The Khmer Times have surfaced that traffickers and illegal gambling businesses are fleeing to Koh Kong, another city that is presumably more appealing to their nefarious operations and still has not attracted attention from authorities.
Others have sought to leave the country altogether, it seems. Cambodia has also been working actively to shut down illegal gambling websites on its territory and beyond.