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3 Oct 2022

Laos: 700 Malaysian migrant workers are detained for ransom in Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone

"700 Malaysian workers stranded, held for ransom in Lao SEZ", 3 October 2022

Around 700 Malaysian migrant workers are being detained in a China-owned casino and hotel resort in northern Laos, where they face abuse by resort managers demanding a large ransom for their release, according to Lao sources.

Lured by promises of employment to the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Bokeo province, most are being put to work as online scammers, with compliance enforced by beatings and torture, sources say.


“Their Chinese employers confiscate their passports and cell phones, and most of the workers are confined to their buildings,” the source said, also declining to be named. “Foreign workers like the Malaysians also have trouble complaining to the Lao authorities because of the language barrier,” he said.


The Golden Triangle SEZ is a gambling and tourism hub catering to Chinese citizens situated along the Mekong River where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. In 2018, the U.S. government sanctioned the Chinese tycoon who is said to run the SEZ as head of a trafficking network.