Vietnamese parents forced to buy back children as Cambodia trafficking crisis escalates

In the first half of this year, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities rescued 250 people lured to Cambodian casinos by human traffickers. In a joint operation, the authorities continue to bring home Vietnamese nationals.

Chinese crime syndicates are believed to be behind it human trafficking operations in Cambodia that have targeted people from Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Colonel Khong Ngoc Oanh, Head of Human Trafficking Prevention of the Ministry of Public Security, declare yourself thousands of people were lured by traffickers who promised them “easy jobs with high wages” when in reality they were taken to manufacturing facilities and casinos and held as prisoners.

Once the victims are under the roof of the casino owner, the workers are exploited. They can only return home if they pay the kidnappers a ransom of up to $30,000, according to authorities.

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This was reported by Vietnamese media on Monday four families in the city of Hai Phong had to pay thousands of dollars in ransom to buy back their children in April after they were tricked by a friend.

A group of teenagers, aged 16 to 17, were trafficked into Cambodia by 45-year-old Nguyen Van Anh, who developed close relationships with the children and their families. The teenagers, three boys and one girl, reportedly dropped out of school to find work to help support their families. Anh told them that his friend in Cambodia recruited workers and paid wages of about $770 to $855 a month.

On March 30, Anh gathered the teenagers and included his son to make the plan believable. However, Anh sent his son home on the excuse of a sick relative once they reached Ninh Binh province. When the group was about to reach the Cambodian border gate, Anh said he forgot his medication and had to turn back.

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“When Anh left, we suspected that we had been tricked, but we didn’t dare to leave as we were afraid of what these people might do to us,” one of the boys recalled.

A group of eight people transported the teenagers across the border illegally. They were brought to the Yong Yuan casino in Kandal province, where they were forced to work 12 hours for only $20 a day along with poor living conditions. If they didn’t work hard enough, they were fined $2,000.

A week later, the casino manager told them that they were not allowed to leave the facility’s premises as they had been sold to the casino. They had to pay at least $2,400 into Ngo Hong Hanh’s account if they wanted to go home.

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The boys were able to contact their families through social media.

“I almost collapsed when I learned that my son had been sold to Cambodia. The families of his friends also got the news and so we contacted each other to report the matter to the police and find ways to bring them home,” Mai, mother of a boy, was quoted as saying.

Lan, the father of one of the children, said all four families had borrowed money or sold assets to buy back their children. They also reported the incident to the local police and filed a case against Anh.

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Before their return, Anh had already been arrested for illegally transporting meth and ecstasy pills in Quang Ninh province.

In another reported incident of human trafficking, 42 Vietnamese nationals tried to escape from the Golden Phoenix Casino in Cambodia’s Kandal Province by swimming in the Binh Di River on August 18. Casino security personnel chased them with whips.

“It was hell. They tricked us and sold us to Cambodia,” said Doan Thi Ngog Diep, a 20-year-old woman who managed to escape with her husband. he said. “We preferred to die at home.”

While 40 people managed to escape, a 16-year-old boy drowned in the river and another teenager was arrested by the casino owners. Some of the survivors reportedly suffered minor injuries.

The Cambodian police have reportedly arrested the Chinese casino manager who allegedly confessed to forced labor practices.

Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokesperson for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said they have “instructed their representatives in Cambodia to work closely with the Cambodian authorities and Vietnamese domestic authorities to assess and verify information, implement measures to protect citizens and providing assistance to citizens in need in a timely manner.”

This measure includes handling procedures for another 25 victims, including the teenager who was rearrested.

“Regional governments and police are way behind on this,” said Jeremy Douglas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The Straits Times. “The pandemic has massively accelerated the movement of online casinos as they try to make up for lost revenue and we know of many across the region who have subsequently turned to scams for additional cash flow. And law enforcement didn’t see it coming.”

On Monday, Cambodia and Thailand also have signed an agreement on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for closer cooperation in anti-trafficking law enforcement. The agreement will also focus on protecting the rights and interests of victims.

Featured image via VnExpress International

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