Labor Rights Groups Urge Cambodian Government to Assist Illegal Migrant Workers in Thailand

Cambodian labor rights officials on Friday called on their government to address challenges undocumented migrant workers in Thailand face obtaining legal employment on the eve of a registration deadline that could see tens of thousands deported or imprisoned after months being idled by coronavirus restrictions.

Thailand’s Ministry of Labor reported last week that nearly 120,000 Cambodian workers have registered to work for up to two years in the country since announcing the requirement on Jan. 15 and warned it would take action against any foreigners who fail to do so by Feb. 14. The ministry said the move is part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within Thailand’s borders.

Dy Thehoya, a migration program official with Cambodian labor watchdog Central, told RFA’s Khmer Service Friday that more than 400,000 Cambodians are believed to be working illegally in Thailand and said around three-fourths of them could be thrown out of the country or detained after the registration deadline passes.

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RFA’s Khmer Service. Translation by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.