According to the latest human trafficking rescue operation reports, authorities have rescued more than 100 Malaysians and 50 Filipinos who were lured to Cambodia and held as prisoners.
Out of 148
Malaysians reported missing, 118 have been rescued from human traffickers while 30 remain missing. According to Malaysia’s foreign minister, 24 citizens
were sent back home on Friday and 29 others remain at immigration centers in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia Saifuddin Abdullah said that 65 citizens had previously been brought home. Others await the completion of investigations and paperwork processing.
The victims, who are mostly young people, were lured by traffickers who promised them jobs with “high wages,” when in reality, they were exploited and held as prisoners.
Saifuddin did not provide further details on the victims.
“What is most important is that they are coming back to Malaysia today safe and sound. We do not want to go into the details,” Saifuddin reportedly said. “There is no guarantee we can stop it (job scams) but we will try our level best.”
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On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines reported that 50 Filipinos who were recruited to work illegally in Cambodia were also rescued and returned home.
The victims were lured through online scamming and catfishing between January and September this year, according to reports.
The DFA said they have coordinated with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to suspend direct hire applications for the business processing sector in Cambodia to stop the illegal recruitment of Filipinos.
“The Embassy and the DFA have issued warnings to Filipinos not to accept online job offers that promise a large paycheck but with unverified companies and vague employment details,” the DFA said in a statement. Last month, Taiwan’s government reported 333 of its citizens were also lured to Cambodia by crime groups who guaranteed tech jobs. In the first half of this year, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities rescued 250 people who were held as prisoners at production facilities and casinos.
Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N. special rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, said human trafficking operations in Cambodia have targeted individuals from various Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam. Individuals are lured into taking jobs and are often forced to participate in internet scams.
The scam networks are reportedly set up in countries with weak law enforcement. Vitit said Cambodia must implement stronger countermeasures as well as receive better international cooperation.