Three arrested over forced labour case in Cambodia

August 23, 2022 - 13:29
Two Vietnamese were arrested by the An Giang Provincial Police while a Chinese manager of a casino in Cambodia was detained by the Cambodian police.


Nguyễn Thị Lê at the police station. VNA/VNS Photo

AN GIANG — Three people, two from Việt Nam and one from China, have been arrested in connection with the case of 40 Vietnamese nationals fleeing forced labour in Cambodia.

An Giang Police Investigation Security Agency arrested two suspects in connection with "organising illegal exits".

A third person, the manager of the casino where the people worked, was arrested by the authorities in Cambodia.

Colonel Đinh Văn Nơi, Director of the provincial police, said the Vietnamese suspects were Nguyễn Thị Lệ (born in 1980), and Lê Văn Danh (born in 1988), both living Long Bình Township, An Phú District of the Mekong Delta border province.

On August 18, 40 Vietnamese nationals, 35 males and five females, were arrested by An Giang border guards after swimming across Bình Di River to illegally enter Việt Nam from Cambodia.

According to their testimony, they had escaped from a casino in Sampeou Poun Commune, Kaoh Thom District, Kandal Province in Cambodia where they claimed they were constantly forced to work overtime without any payment.

The victims told the police that through social networks and acquaintances, they were lured to Cambodia to work, with the promise of "easy work, high salary".

They said they were, however, “very shocked” when starting the jobs, claiming every day, they were forced to go online to lure people to charge money into online accounts for gambling.

Those who failed to meet the quotas would be beaten by the people of the casino, their salaries would be deducted or not paid, or they would be sold to another casino. To get out of there, they had to contact their families and pay a ransom.

Initial investigations by An Giang police showed that six of them were illegally brought to Cambodia by Lệ and Danh.

Lệ admitted that around May this year, she was asked by an unknown man to illegally bring people out of Việt Nam to Cambodia.

Lệ then worked with Danh to organise the illegal exits. Danh took people to the river bank on the Vietnamese side, and Lệ transported them to Cambodia. The pair were paid VNĐ100,000 (US$4.27) per person successfully brought to Cambodia.

In addition to the six people, Lệ also admitted that she and Danh had conducted many other illegal exits for people to go to work in Cambodian casinos.

Human trafficking rings 

Bình Di River at the Việt Nam-Cambodia border across which the 40 people swam to return to Việt Nam. VNA/VNS Photo

On Tuesday, Colonel Nơi told local media that based on the testimony of the escapees four human trafficking rings had been discovered.

"These rings operate in many provinces and cities, connecting with accomplices in Cambodia to bring Vietnamese people into casinos to work illegally," he said.

The An Giang Police have reported to the Criminal Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security to coordinate with the provinces - where the human trafficking rings operate, to investigate the case.

“The Cambodian authority has also actively cooperated with us to investigate the acts of human trafficking, forcing Vietnamese labourers to work overtime, not paying wages, and signs of torture… to protect Vietnamese citizens,” he said.

According to Cambodian media, the Cambodian Police also arrested the manager of the casino where the Vietnamese worked.

Khmer Times newspaper quoted General Keo Vannthan, Immigration Department spokesman, as saying that he had led a team to the Golden Phoenix Entertainment Casino and detained the manager for questioning.

The casino manager, a Chinese national, admitted to forcing the workers to work against their will but claimed that the escapees owed the company money. Investigation by the Cambodian police found out that apart from the 40 people managing to return to Việt Nam, one drowned and 11 other Vietnamese were caught by the casino staff.

Cambodian Police is working with their An Giang counterparts and other agencies to complete the procedures for the return of the remaining 11 Vietnamese citizens through diplomatic channels. — VNS