Cambodia deported nineteen Japanese nationals back to their home country on Tuesday after they spent months in detention for alleged involvement in phone scams, Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told CamboJA.
Tokyo police obtained arrest warrants for the 19 Japanese last Thursday.
The group was detained in January at the Mary Beach Hotel and Resort in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune, according to Preah Sihanouk authorities.
Cambodian authorities ordered the deportation of the Japanese nationals on the grounds they had illegally stayed in Cambodia, the Japanese Embassy said. There have been other incidents in which Japanese nationals were detained and forced to engage in illegal activities against their will, the embassy added.
“We [at the hotel] were also surprised when the police came down, as there was no confinement because they could walk, exercise and swim at the hotel as normal, like the other guests,” the hotel’s receptionist told CamboJA in February.
Cambodian officials said they found no evidence of human trafficking in the case of the 19 deported Japanese but the National Police claimed the group was involved in illegal activities.
The Cambodian government has strict measures to counteract all forms of online scamming and human trafficking, says Chou Bun Eng, Interior Ministry secretary of state and permanent vice-chair of the National Committee for Counter-Trafficking,
However, a multitude of well-documented local and international media reports have shown that human trafficking and online scams are rampant in Cambodia but not held accountable.