The government has denied claims by senior US officials that Cambodia is one of nine countries that have not cooperated in accepting the removal of nationals found to be in the US “without lawful status”.
A further 46 Cambodians are due to be deported from the country this month.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) public affairs officer Brendan Raedy told The Post on Thursday: “I point out that Cambodia remains one of only nine countries in the world considered by the US to be uncooperative in accepting the removal of their nationals found to be in the US without lawful status.”
However, senior Cambodian officials responded to the claims by insisting Phnom Penh is cooperating with Washington.
Korng Sokhorn, the director-general of the General Department of Identification at the Ministry of Interior, said Cambodia is fully prepared for the return of deportees.
“We have always been cooperative. There [generally] seems to be no problems, but we just have issues to discuss from time to time. However, we have always cooperated with the US government."
“Working [on the issue of deportees] is not always [straightforward] and we have [things] to discuss. However, we always cooperate [with the US],” he said.
Sokhorn said he could not confirm how many further Cambodian nationals residing in the US were to be deported to the Kingdom after the latest group of 46.
Raedy told The Post that the US would continue to ensure other countries remained cooperative in accepting the return of their nationals as international law stipulated.
“Each country has an obligation under international law to accept the return of its nationals who are not eligible to remain in the US or any other country."
“The US itself routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting its citizens when asked, and ongoing US government efforts have ensured that the majority of the world’s countries do likewise,” Raedy said.
Raedy also responded to criticisms of the conditions in its detention facilities and the provision of food.
He said: “ICE is firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody. All ICE detention facilities are subject to regular inspections – both announced and unannounced."
“ICE provides several levels of oversight in order to ensure that detainees in ICE custody reside in safe, secure and humane environments, and under appropriate conditions of confinement."
“Oversight is provided by on-site detention service managers employed by ICE, the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations’ Detention Standards Compliance Unit and the ICE Office of Detention Oversight, and other units,” he added.