Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Group condemns treatment of Khmer Krom

Group condemns treatment of Khmer Krom

Group condemns treatment of Khmer Krom

A STATEMENT issued Monday by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) condemned the treatment of Khmer Krom, Uighur and Hmong refugees by several nations, including Cambodia, after a conference on refugees in Rome last week.

The statement expressed “deep concern at the total disregard” for the principle of non-refoulement – which protects refugees seeking asylum from being returned to their home countries – by the governments of Cambodia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Myanmar and Nepal.

Maggie Murphy, programme coordinator for the UNPO Secretariat, expressed specific concerns on Monday about the conduct of Cambodian authorities in dealing with Khmer Krom refugees who have been unable to secure identity documents since arriving in Cambodia on December 5.

“The Khmer Krom case is extremely complex due to Cambodia’s gesture of granting asylum seekers citizenship without granting full citizen rights. Indeed, names must be changed or adapted, and places of birth modified,” she said.

“The granting of an identity document often only occurs once a bribe has been secured from the asylum seeker,” she said, adding that the Khmer Krom Federation, which attended the Rome conference, had received numerous complaints that authorities had requested prohibitively large sums of money for identity documents.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Tuesday that it was standard practice to require a small fee for legal documents.

“It’s normal that the authorities might ask for a little fee to buy cigarettes or for breakfast. In Western countries or the United States, if you want to see a doctor, you need to pay a lot of money,” he said.

Thach Soong, a Khmer Krom representative who has previously argued that the refugees need legal documents to secure housing and employment, said they could not afford to pay any sum.

“I’m sure they will not provide us any legal documents because we don’t have any money,” he said.

The UNPO statement also criticised what it described as the “weak response” of the broader international community and called on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to reverse its decision to hand over responsibility for refugees to state authorities.


  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to