THE government said Tuesday that it had lifted a temporary ban on marriages between Cambodian women and South Korean men that was imposed last month after a broker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in arranging such unions.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said a “confidential” letter had been sent to all embassies last Thursday stating that foreigners looking to marry Cambodians must appear in person to submit applications to his ministry as well as to the Interior Ministry and local authorities. The letter, he added, had effectively lifted the ban.
When the ban was announced last month, Koy Kuong said it would remain in place until the government could establish an effective screening mechanism to prevent cases of trafficking.
WE HAVE TRIED TO IMPROVE THE PROCEDURE TO PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING."
Last week, however, Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said the government was planning to lift the ban, but that no protocols had been put in place beyond sub-decree 183, the article that governs marriages between Cambodians and foreigners.
On Tuesday, Koy Kuong said changes had in fact been made to prevent marriages from being arranged by brokers such as the woman who was sentenced in March.
“We have tried to improve the procedure to prevent trafficking,” Koy Kuong said. “We don’t want the marriages arranged by a broker.”
He declined to elaborate on changes listed in the letter sent to the embassies, saying it was “confidential”.
“The main point is that the two people have to be present at each process,” Koy Kuong said.
The British embassy declined to release the letter, and the US embassy could not be reached.
Bith Kimhong, director of the Anti-human Trafficking Department at the Ministry of Interior, said on Tuesday that the interview process was important “in order for ministry officials to see foreigners face-to-face so officials can see whether the foreigners have a good body or good health and how they look”.