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Vietnamese labour trafficking tied to online gambling

Vietnamese citizens are being lured with attractive, but often fraudulent, offers to migrate and work in casinos in Cambodia

Due to the influx of Chinese investment in the coastal town of Sihanoukville, this area has emerged as one of the primary destinations for labour trafficking, with Vietnamese officials reporting Chinese nationals luring Vietnamese citizens to work in Cambodian casinos and online gaming establishments, adding that they were often assaulted when they tried to escape.

South China Morning Post reports that Vietnamese citizens are being lured with attractive but often fraudulent offers to migrate and work in casinos in Cambodia and are trained to find and entice potential customers for online gambling, which has been banned in Cambodia since 2019.

Last week, the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia highlighted the risks of trafficking, noting both the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the difficulty of controlling the porous border between the two countries.

Vietnam PoliceIn a Facebook post, the Vietnamese embassy urged its citizens to be vigilant about suspicious advertisements for jobs offering between USD 800 and USD 1,000 a month.

SCMP quoted the embassy as saying, "According to [victims], we found out that the operation to entice and bring Vietnamese people to Cambodia is led by a number of Chinese people, with the participation of both Vietnamese and Cambodians,''.

"After the victims agree to the job, criminal groups will arrange for them to go to Cambodia ... [where they] will be brought to hotels or casinos that are concentrated in Sihanoukville," the embassy added.

In September, the Chinese embassy released a statement, warning that Chinese citizens were being smuggled into Cambodia from Vietnam and elsewhere to work in illegal sectors.

The Vietnamese embassy's Facebook post also detailed how victims were closely monitored and forced to work 16 hours a day. Many were physically assaulted when they tried to escape. The victims who refused to work and wanted to return to Vietnam were beaten and forced to take on debts between USD 1,000 and USD 8,000 or were sold to another company.

Chief mission of the UN's International Organization for Migration in Cambodia, Kristin Parco, said: "Covid-19 has created new vulnerabilities as well as exacerbated existing ones and increased risks of exploitation of individuals and communities to trafficking networks,".

"Traffickers have adjusted their business models by exploiting modern communications technologies. Online trafficking and exploitation have evidently spiked since the beginning of the pandemic in the region," Parco added.

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