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The Risk of Movement: CLEC 2013 Annual Migration Report 

2014-08-18 - CLEC

Thousands of Khmer workers were sent back to Cambodia by Thai military authority in June 2014

In June 2014 the IOM and Cambodian government tracked an exodus of more than 200,000 migrant workers crossing the border from Thailand back into Cambodia. The mass migration came on the heels of political disruption and rumored violence against Cambodians in Thailand. More than 50% of those returning were illegal or undocumented migrants, and less than one month later many were already claiming they had plans to return to Thailand as soon as possible. The event has raised many questions amongst aid groups and migration experts; namely, how the Cambodian government can help to ensure that their migrants are better protected in the future.

From January to December 2013, CLEC worked on more than 100 ongoing and new cases of labor trafficking and consulted with an estimated 300 families who have been involved with the process of both legal and illegal migration. From these cases, CLEC was able to compile a body of statistical and qualitative evidence in an effort to understand the underlying complexities behind Cambodian labor migration. Our findings overwhelmingly supported the theory that Cambodian migrants have chosen to migrate due to inadequate wages and desolate employment opportunities at home. Furthermore, our findings show that many migrants choose this route voluntarily, even after learning of the risks.

The attached report outlines and gives examples of cases CLEC worked on in the past year that represent four of the largest types of labor migration currently trending in Cambodia: the continuing exploitation of domestic workers abroad; irregular and undocumented migration through brokers; forced marriages in China; and migration for the purposes of illegal fishing. Although not exhaustive of all migratory patterns in Cambodia, through this methodology we were able to draw conclusions from several diverse aspects of migration, illustrating the strong causal link between the domestic labor market and the susceptibility of Cambodians to human trafficking.

Second, our report urges the Cambodian government to pursue a set of long-term mechanisms to aid Cambodians in finding employment domestically, coupled with stronger intermediary solutions to give victims more adequate means to seek emergency and legal redress. Based on CLEC's research, abuses previously thought to be avoidable if migrants were better informed of the risks of migration are now known to be costs that some are forced to take on knowingly for the chance to absorb the corresponding benefits of the system.

In an effort to help curtail the rate of undocumented migration in the future, we urge the Cambodian government to implement a stronger monitoring system for the migrant worker recruitment process as well as to transparently implement lower passport fees to reflect the legally adjusted new rates. In addition, we urge the government to consider making gross adjustments to the current domestic working conditions and policies, with an aim to allow Cambodians to seek out employment possibilities domestically.

Intermediary recommendations include an improvement in the monitoring of overseas consulates - which have been notoriously slow in response to complaints, at times causing even more risk for victims - as well as a more systematic evaluation of domestic justice mechanisms within the country, particularly concerning long-winded pre-trial periods and a noticeable absence of compensation implementation within the year.

For more information please contact: Mr. Tola Moeun, Head of Labor Program, +855 66 777 056; Ms. Brandy York, Consultant, +855 66 777 049

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