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.


  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth