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Cambodian legislators, officials talk to enhance migrant worker rights

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Approximately 150 parliamentarians, government officials, recruitment agency representatives, trade unions leaders, and development partners gathered here on Monday to discuss ways and measures to promote and protect the rights of Cambodian migrant workers.

Speaking at the opening of the parliamentary forum on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, said that migrant workers have actively contributed to developing economy and society and the migrant workers overseas bring home money and skills.

“However, illegal migrant workers are often trafficked and abused sexually,” he said. “Therefore, we need to work together to discourage people from illegal migration.”

He added that in its efforts to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers, Cambodia has signed international treaties and conventions, and agreements and memorandums of understanding with countries in the region and the world.

Currently, 124,890 Cambodian laborers have been working legally in Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and Japan, according to the figures of the Ministry of Labor.

Those migrant workers have sent home about 200 million U.S. dollars a year.

Douglas Broderick, Representative of the United Nations Development Program to Cambodia, said at the forum that any migrant workers work for excessively long hours and some are subjected to verbal and physical abuse, sexual abuse, confined against their will, denied health care and deprived of food.

“Promotion and protection of their rights is essential; they all have the right to work safely, and to make enough money to send some back home,” he said. “We need to put more effort into protecting migrant workers. No one institution only can do this job successfully. We have to work together in a concerted way.”

“A partnership with parliamentarians is vital. Through such partnership, we can build support and linkages between policy and legislative frameworks, and implementation,” he said.

Jenna Holliday, Representative of the United Nations Women to Cambodia, said that the forum was crucial towards increasing the promotion and protection of migrant workers rights. “UN Women is committed to supporting the government to improve the promotion and protection of migrant workers – but for this work to be effective; we must also look to implementation and spreading the safe migration messages at the sub-national level,” she said.

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