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22 Sep 2015

In African waters. The Trafficking of Cambodian Fishers in South Africa, 2014

This NEXUS Institute-authored study explores and discusses the experiences of Cambodian men who migrated for work in the fishing industry through a legally registered recruitment agency in Cambodia and then ended up trafficked and exploited on fishing vessels off the coastline of South Africa. While estimates on the number of Cambodian men trafficked as fishers by this recruitment agency differ, what is clear is that hundreds of Cambodians were exploited in this way. This study discusses the trafficking of Cambodian men for fishing out of South Africa and/or in South African waters – how the men were recruited and transported, as well as their trafficking experiences at sea. The study also discusses how these trafficked fishers were (or, more commonly, were not) identified as trafficking victims in South Africa and what assistance they did (or did not) receive when they escaped and returned home to Cambodia and sought to (re)integrate into their families and communities. The study, based on the experiences of 31 Cambodian men trafficked for fishing to South Africa between 2010 and 2013, is drawn from in-depth interviews with trafficked fishers and case files, as well as interviews with 42 key informants in Cambodia and South Africa. This paper is part of the NEXUS Institute and IOM Human Trafficking Research Series, funded with the support of the US Department of State, under the terms of Grant No S-GTIP-09-GR-0070.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Research methodology and data collection
    • 3. Definitions, terms and concepts
    • 4. Who was trafficked? Cambodian fishers trafficked to and from South Africa
    • 5. Recruitment of Cambodian fishers: The role of Giant Ocean
    • 6. From Cambodia to South Africa: How the men travelled
    • 7. Exploited in South African waters and beyond: The trafficking experience
    • 8. Leaving the vessel: Exit, escape, rescue and release
    • 9. The way home: Returning from trafficking
    • 10. Life after trafficking: Recovery and (re)integration in Cambodia
    • 11. Conclusion and recommendations
    • 12. Bibliography