The director of immigration at the Interior Ministry has warned local authorities to immediately cease distributing identity documents to illegal immigrants after recent census data revealed that allegedly crooked officials have been handing out papers.
Immigration Department spokesman Kerm Sarin said yesterday that his unit found that foreigners had come into possession of such papers as the ministry continued conducting its census.
“It is illegal, because Cambodian administration documents – identity cards, family books – cannot be given to foreigners unless a foreigner becomes a citizen of Cambodia with a royal decree from the King and we [the ministry] create those administration documents for them,” he said.
“For legal immigrants, we offer them documents that identify them as such with a defined period of time.”
Ny Chakrya of local rights group Adhoc said that the crackdown is likely part of a larger effort to control the flow of migrants into Cambodia.
The important thing, he said, is to reinforce the management at border checkpoints and improve data collection.
“Or else, though we do our best from inside the country, we will not be able achieve this, because we cannot control the flow of immigrants,” he said.
According to 2014 data from the Ministry of Interior, Cambodia hosts roughly 160,000 undocumented migrants, most of whom are of Vietnamese nationality.