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Behind concrete walls: Cambodia’s cyber slavery horrors

  • Published on
    February 12, 2024
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Human Trafficking
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An industrial park in rural Cambodia is surrounded by a 10-foot-high concrete wall that is lined with barbed wire. According to a recent article by Radio Free Asia (RFA), the wall hides a massive center for forced labor cyber slavery. Locals from the surrounding village say inside are trafficked Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Chinese nationals who are forced to carry out cyber scams, amongst other crimes, under threats of violence and torture.

Dormitories designed to keep people in

Inside the walled-off 15-acre sprawl stands 18 large dormitory-like buildings with metal bars on the windows. RFA says the buildings are owned by Golden Fortune which is connected to Prince Group, one of Cambodia’s “hottest conglomerates.” Inside these buildings cyber-scams, prostitution, pornography, and extortion have been taking place, involving victims of forced labor and cyber slavery. Victims are mostly locked inside with little contact from the outside world. Barring escape, they are only released from the compound if their families can pull together the ransom demanded by the traffickers.

According to one staff member interviewed:

“If ransom was not provided as demanded, mistreatment, beating and electrocution would be used and video clips [about the torture] are sent to the family to see.”

Inside the buildings, criminal gangs force trafficked workers to perform a type of cyber fraud, called “pig butchering” in which scammers convince victims to invest money in phony investment schemes. However, an increasing number of reports are finding that those performing the scams are often being held against their will and forced to scam. In Cambodia alone, the U.N. estimates approximately 100,000 people are victims of cyber slavery. In addition to the cyber slavery, at the Golden Fortune compound a former security guard stated that female workers are often forced into prostitution and pornography. Workers who don’t meet their quotas or follow orders are violently punished.

Victims bought, sold, and treated like slaves

A former security officer stated that trafficked victims at the Golden Fortune compound are forced to work 12 hours a day and would usually be sold like slaves to another compound after 6 to 12 months of working at the site. On the rare occasion that someone tried to escape, they would be hunted down with Golden Fortune offering $50 bounties for returned escapees.

Panha, whose brother is head of security said:

“When they recapture escaped workers, they beat them until they’re barely alive. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

A local who lives near the compound said he had personally witnessed security guards knocking down escapees with their cars and using electric cattle prods to tase them and drive escapees back to the compound. And there is no use going to local law enforcement as according to this resident, police are employed as security guards at the compound and are complicit in the inhumane treatment.

In 2022 Prince Group was accused and found guilty by a court in China of establishing illegal online casinos with some operations located in Cambodia. Since then, the Cambodian government has started cracking down on illegal gambling. RFA suggests that the evidence points to the Prince Group pivoting, like so many online gambling operations in Cambodia, to forced labor to keep their revenue streams flowing.

Sadly, despite a press release issued by Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry in 2023 stating their commitment, “to further enhance cooperation in law enforcement, particularly in combating cross-border gambling, drug and human trafficking, cybercrime and fake news” it seems the crime of forced labor and cyber slavery in Cambodia continues to thrive.

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Linda
Linda
1 month ago

It’s hard to believe that something so terrible is happening in the world. Governments need to do something to stop this evil or are they involved?

Hedwig Metzen
1 month ago

What can be done? What can we (those like me who just read your email) do?

Elmar
Elmar
1 month ago

This is an utterly unworthy crime against humanity. It is evil at its core. There is no more cyncism in the world than that company name (honestly, exploiting and blemishing life is the way of getting bloody sick rich, these big shot barbarians totally know that). What could we, or me as a European, do to end these insane attrocities? Or is that “just” an evil corrupted state with no hope? I am hoping for the EU’s Supply Chain Due Dilligence Law.
(Sorry for my emotional outbreak, it’s so sick.)

Cavin
Cavin
1 month ago

May the Lord Curse be upon those evil and Break the wall of curse be crushed into dust and release everyone free in Jesus Holy Powerful Name Amen

Patricia Beckford
1 month ago

since they know its illegal the government should take action against these people to free those imprisoned against their will

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