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Vannak Anan Prum

Cambodia , Class of 2012

Vannak Anan Prum

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A victim of labor trafficking, Prum has spread awareness of this issue through his paintings.

Lured by the promise of a good job, Prum headed to Thailand, where he was enslaved for four years on a fishing boat. He was tortured, mistreated, and beaten. He was also starved. He escaped, along with another man, by jumping off the boat and swimming the four kilometers to shore. The boat, at that time, was anchored just off of Malysia. Upon his return to Cambodia, he attempted to get help, but to no avail: he was sold by corrupt officials to a palm oil plantation.

He was in a forced labor situation on the plantation for several months. Then, an incident that occured with another worker landed him in detention. While there, he was able to establish contact with Malaysian and Cambodian human rights NGOs, which collaborated to have Mr. Prum repatriated to Cambodia. Unfortunately, the process took several months, and he remained in detention all of that time. An artist, he has since built awareness of slavery within the Thai fishing industry through a series of paintings that he has completed. Each painting is accompanied by a description, and they detail his experience over the five years that he was separated from his family and was enslaved. He has been interviewed by a variety of people, and was featured in a 2012 documentary titled “Journey to Freedom” produced by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

In the 2014 TIP Report, Cambodia was listed as a source, transit, and destination country, and placed on a Tier 2 watch list. Sex trafficking is common, in and out of the country, as is trafficking for the purposes of forced labor or domestic servitude. The country making efforts to comply with the minimum requirements of the TVPA, but has not yet done so.

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