Six Taiwanese nationals, five who remain at large, were on Tuesday sentenced to ten years in prison for their part in trafficking 74 Cambodians to work under slave-like conditions on fishing boats off the coast of Africa.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kor Vandy found the six guilty of human trafficking and ordered them to collectively pay between $1,800 and $15,000 in compensation and damages to each of the victims.
Lin Li Chen, 54, the owner of the now defunct Giant Ocean International Fishing Co., who was the only defendant present at the trial, was taken to prison. The whereabouts of her five accomplices, Huang Chun Fa, Tshia Hishu, Lu-Tien Te, Chen Chun Num and Wu Futsang, remain unknown.
Vong Ratha, Ms. Li Chen’s lawyer, said his client would appeal the sentence, adding any compensation money would have to come from the $100,000 that Giant Ocean paid as surety when it registered with the Labor Ministry in 2009.
“[The court] can demand the money from the Labor Ministry now that they have made the decision,” Mr. Ratha said.
Huy Pichsovan, migration program officer for the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), which estimates that upwards of 1,000 Cambodians were trafficked by Giant Ocean before the Labor Ministry shut it down in 2012, said the verdict was a positive first step.
“There are still a number of problems. First, how will the victims receive their compensation?” Mr. Pichsovan said. “And also, many people worked inside the company, but only one has been arrested.”
“Where are the other people and what are they doing now?” he asked.
Mr. Pichsovan also said that CLEC believes there are still hundreds of Cambodians trapped on boats elsewhere, unable to make their way home after being duped by Giant Ocean.
mengleng@cambodiadaily.com, blomberg@cambodiadaily.com
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