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Immigration department requests border changes

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Cambodian workers cross the border into Thailand at Daung International Check Point in Battambang province in 2016. Heng Chivoan

Immigration department requests border changes

The General Department of Immigration has requested the Ministry of Interior to close down several border checkpoints and add new facilities to issue border permits to prevent migrant workers from crossing illegally and to stop smuggling.

The request followed a meeting on border checkpoints and the use of border permits led by Ministry of Interior secretary of state Sok Phal on Monday morning.

The meeting was attended by an undersecretary of state, the deputy National Police chief in charge of border security, the deputy director of the General Department of Immigration and other officials.

Phal said establishing new border checkpoints in key areas and adding facilities to issue border permits would prevent the illegal migration of workers and the smuggling of goods.

“The department encourages the opening of several new Thai-Cambodian border checkpoints that require people to use border permits that are officially recognised by the two countries. When new official checkpoints are opened, the government will close down unauthorised ones.

“In the meeting, we requested [Minister of Interior] Samdech [Sar Kheng] to close down some border checkpoints, but we have not identified which ones yet . . . we are asking for guidance first. There are too many corridors that people are using every day,” he said.

Phal said the Cambodian and Thai governments had already opened four new international checkpoints – such as Phnom Dei Checkpoint in Battambang province and Stung But Checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province – and the General Department of Immigration was working to establish two more.

Moeun Tola, the executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, told The Post that he strongly supported and welcomed any government action to reduce illegal migration and the smuggling of goods.

“Closing checkpoints can be effective because many people cross the border illegally. It will also help reduce human trafficking. But the degree to which it’s effective depends on clamping down on corrupt border officials.

“Unless there is close collaboration between Cambodian and Thai authorities, they won’t be able to reduce corruption,” he said.

Before Monday’s meeting, the Ministry of Interior’s website outlined the main areas to be discussed.

“There are three urgent tasks to be solved. First, increase the number of facilities issuing border permits. Second, establish new border checkpoints in important areas. Third, keep current checkpoints in their same state for a while because legal agreements with bordering countries can take a long time,” the ministry wrote.

Chhum Socheat, the undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, said on July 3 that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces had cracked down on 2,981 crimes near the Kingdom’s borders this year.

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