Cambodia deported 130 foreigners, three of them women, on November 7 and 8 after discovering that they had entered the Kingdom illegally. They are now banned from entering Cambodia for three years.

According to a November 8 press release by the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI), 110 of the deportees were Chinese nationals, with the rest from Vietnam.

They were deported via Phnom Penh International Airport and the Trapaing Phlong International Border Checkpoint bordering Vietnam in accordance with the immigration law, it said.

“They were detained in connection with the crime of illegally crossing the border and working in violation of the immigration law. And in accordance with an interior ministry prakas, they are also banned from entering Cambodia for three years,” it added.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group LICADHO, said he had recently observed Cambodian authorities expelling many illegal immigrants. He said that while it was a good thing, it also signalled defects in law enforcement.

“The fact that so many were present in the Kingdom suggests weaknesses in law enforcement. It may be that cooperation between the different law enforcement institutions is poor, or it may point to corruption among the border authorities – on both sides of the border,” he said.

He noted that some of the migrants were themselves victims, as they had been trafficked here, often through falling for online scams.

“We have to be aware of whether some of these people are victims, but ultimately, if you sneak into a country and commit illegal acts, then under Cambodian law, you must be deported,” he said.

Sam Ath suggested that an assessment of foreign investors’ investment record be made, noting that some bad actors were deliberately investing in criminal enterprises in the Kingdom.

He said the influx of illegal workers had caused many difficulties for Cambodia as it could easily lead to more labour trafficking. This, he said, has recently prompted the government to announce a far-reaching crackdown on all forms of human trafficking.

In a previous case, officials from the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) inspected 10 locations in Preah Sihanouk province between August 18 and October 4 and discovered 2,760 foreigners, 814 of them without valid passports. NCCT said 1,512 of those with passports were working without work permits. Among the foreigners, 685 were deported, while a further 920 were detained at its headquarters awaiting deportation.