Over 100 representatives from the Cambodian and Thai governments, the EU, the UN, civil society organizations and the private sector have participated to the “2nd International Exchange Visit for Dialogue between Cambodia and Thailand”, concerning labour migration and human trafficking between the two countries.

The event ended, on Friday 26 April 2019, with a visit in Taream village, in Chi Kraeng district from whose area comes a high percentage of migrants in relation to the other districts of Siem Reap province. The field visit has been the occasion for Thai and Cambodian authorities to meet returned migrants and listening their experiences. Sokhom* story is one of the numerous cases of labor exploitation that our facilitators hear every month during the Self Help Groups (SHGs), created since the 2013 to prevent abuses and strengthen the community response for victims of exploitation.

Sakom’s son and daughter were deceived by a broker that promised them a work and regular documents, once arrived in Thailand. Actually they worked four months without receiving salaries nor legal documents.

In fact, “80% of Cambodian migrants reports some kind of labour exploitation, according to the ILO data”, explained Margherita Romanelli, Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) Policy Advisor and Strategic Development Coordinator for the Asia Region. “The story of Sokhom and others came out during the visit provide evidence of the urgency to simplify the MoU procedures and reducing costs for regular channels of migration”, added Romanelli confirming results of the two days Conference. “Only in this way Cambodian migrants can benefit from the full rights foreseen by the Thai law”.

These and other problems were discussed during the event “Cross-Border Cooperation on Labour Migration and Human Trafficking between Cambodia and Thailand: From policy framework to the implementation. As Simona Capocasale, GVC Country representative, said, the main objectives of the meeting are to increase cooperation between the two countries, enforce the law that protect migrant workers from labour abuses and assure a better assistance and reintegration of victims of human trafficking”.

Different important points have been emphasized. Among the recommendations resulted from the discussion, we can mention a more convenient MoU for migrants in terms of time, costs and less bureaucracy; the support of the employers to the costs for the recruitment process, according to the “Zero Recruitment fees”; a more efficient monitoring to Private Recruitment Agencies; a better planning and sharing of the information between Institutions and NGOs for the improvement of referral system. Moreover it has been underlined the importance of a common definition of human trafficking among the different actors in Thailand and Cambodia to improve identification of victims, while adopting a multi-stakeholder victim protection approach and a stronger cooperation in the persecution of the perpetrators. Finally, special attention should be payed to migrant women and children, the most vulnerable people.

H.E. Mrs. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State and Permanent Vice-Chair person of NCCT (National Committee for Counter Trafficking) of Cambodia underlined the importance to start from a real analysis of the situation, including gaps to be overcome, especially by strengthening the cooperation between the two countries. Mr Suwan Duangta, Inspector General of the Department of Employment, Ministry of Labour of Thailand, recognized the need to “monitor migrant worker rights in Thailand”.

Mr Franck Viault, Minister Counsellor – Head of cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia,  concluded the Conference appreciating the results came out from a constructive dialogue and underlining one of the added value of the two projects MIG-RIGHT and RIGHT-TO-WORK: “not often migration projects work on both sending and receiving countries”.

The International Exchange Visit for Dialogue has been organized by Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) in the framework of the European Union funded projects MIG-RIGHT: supporting and advocating Cambodian migrants’ rights in Thailand, preventing violations and human trafficking” and “RIGHT-TO-WORK: promoting and protecting the labour rights of low skilled Cambodian migrant workers”, run by GVC and its partners: Legal Support for Children and Women (LSCW) in Cambodia and Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) in Thailand.


* Sokhom is not the real name