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Government meets with US deportees

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Recent deportees from the US photographed earlier this year in Battambang province. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Government meets with US deportees

The Ministry of Interior says it has interviewed an unspecified number of Cambodians facing potential deportation from the US and forwarded their names to the Foreign Ministry.

In a press release yesterday, the Interior Ministry said it sent officials to the United States to interview the detainees “to check their identities in order to have a process to manage and integrate them into Cambodian society”.

The Cambodian government stopped accepting deportees from the US earlier this year, setting off a dispute that resulted in the US State Department suspending certain visas for top Foreign Ministry officials.

The US Embassy in Phnom Penh has declined to confirm whether deportations are restarting, but Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said last week that Cambodia is prepared to accept the returnees. Sok Phal, head of the Immigration Department, said in a message yesterday that it is up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to decide whether to accept the deportees.

The deportations have been criticised for being unjust to deportees, most of whom arrived in the US as young refugees and have never been to Cambodia despite being citizens.

A Foreign Affairs representative could not be reached.

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