Hotels, Casinos That Detain, Traffic, Exploit Workers Will Be Prosecuted: Preah Sihanouk

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Preah Sihanouk governor Kouch Chamroeun inspects a haul of weapons from an alleged kidnapping, in a photo posted to the Preah Sihanouk military police’s Facebook page.

Preah Sihanouk authorities have issued a statement that hotels and casinos that detain, traffic or sexually exploit workers can have their business licenses revoked and cases sent to court.

Provincial authorities last week said they had already gone to the casino earlier in the month and found 36 Thai workers who had illegally crossed the border, while denying there was confinement.

Thai media have reported about alleged cases of Thai nationals being confined and made to work at Sihanoukville casinos, with international publications reporting similar stories of people being enslaved in the port city.

This week, the provincial administration said it had received many complaints about “labor disputes” where employers were not complying with procedures to have proper employment contracts.

In such cases, if the administration found hotel and casino owners committing — directly or indirectly — the crimes of forcing people to work, detaining them, trafficking people or sexual exploitation, it would take further action, it said in a statement.

“The provincial administration will take action to temporarily suspend the business location and build a case to send to court to punish the persons involved in accordance with the law, and request the Royal Government to cancel the business license permanently,” the statement said.

Provincial spokesman Kheang Phearum said the province had a 24-hour hotline in Khmer, Chinese and English, and set up patrols of the city.

“We have deployed the provincial forces to patrol the main targets, and we also have a force stationed in temporary headquarters,” Phearum said.

Ly Heang, a receptionist at the Ly Kheng Hotel in Sihanoukville, said the hotel was wary about illegal business being conducted by guests, and collected their phone numbers and passports to alert authorities in case of trouble. Amid Covid-19, the risk of illegal business was high as there were fewer visitors to the city, she said.

“If there is a problem, we have to close the hotel, close our business, stop doing business,” Heang said.

Rights group Adhoc’s Preah Sihanouk coordinator, Cheap Sotheary, said she hoped there would be strong monitoring and enforcement of the potential trafficking in the city.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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