Cambodia returns 26 Vietnamese workers as embassy warns of job scams

Some had been working at a casino accused of beating and illegally detaining workers.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.09.02
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Vietnamese citizens at the Tinh Bien International Border Gate on Sept, 1.
Công an TPHCM

Cambodia has repatriated 26 Vietnamese citizens including 11 who were working at the Rich World casino in Kandal province, which was accused of luring foreign workers into forced labor involving online scams.

The 26 were handed over to Vietnamese authorities at the Tinh Bien International Border Gate between Vietnam’s An Giang province and Cambodia’s Takeo province.

They came from Vietnam’s northern and central provinces, the Central Highlands and the southwest region, according to Lt. Col. Tran Hoa Hiep, head of the Border Guard Station

Border guards handed the 26 over to An Giang Provincial Police’s Immigration Department for further investigation.

State media said the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh helped secure the return of the 26 citizens.

The embassy said that more than 600 Vietnamese had been tricked into going to Cambodia on the promise of "light work and a high salary." In reality they were sold into forced labor and exploited, leading many to seek outside help or try to escape.

The Consular Department of Vietnam’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the number of applications for consular certification to allow its citizens to work abroad rose by as much as 300% in recent months, state media reported.

The department warned people to be wary of “scammers and fraud.”

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Screen Grabs from a video posted Aug. 18, showing (left) casino workers running out of a Chinese-operated casino in Cambodia's Kandal province and (right) jumping into a river bordering Vietnam. CREDIT: VnExpress

Cambodian casino escape

Last month a video showing more than 40 Vietnamese workers escaping from the Rich World casino complex in Cambodia’s Kandal province went viral.

The video, posted on Vietnamese news site VnExpress on Aug. 18, showed men and women jumping into a river bordering the two countries, chased by guards swinging metal rods. A 16-year-old from Vietnam’s Gia Lai province was found dead in the river the online site reported.

At a news conference on Aug. 18 Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the government’s mission was to rescue the victims and bring the ringleader to justice,” adding that authorities had arrested “a ringleader or manager.”

However, he claimed allegations of human trafficking and forced labor at the casino were only “partly true,” saying the workers ran away after “arguing over salary or other issues.”

Two of the workers who escaped told VnExpress they were tricked into working at the casino. One woman said employees had to create fake social media profiles and persuade people to pay to join a bogus dating site or face beatings.

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