The Ministry of Interior has said that the arrest of more than 100 Chinese nationals last week was based on the spirit of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China and relevant Cambodian immigration laws.
A ministry press release issued on Friday to clarify what it called “misleading comments” in some media outlets said the people who were arrested were wanted by the authorities in China for crimes in their homeland.
“We searched for the offenders following a warrant from Chinese authorities who were seeking to take legal action and find justice for their victims in China.
“In all operations to crack down on crimes and arrest criminals, whether they are Cambodians or foreigners, the Cambodian authorities have always first investigated and collected enough evidence under the law.
“If those [Chinese nationals] were imprisoned in the Kingdom, it would be a big burden on the national budget.
“All foreigners who have been arrested and deported from Cambodia in accordance with the Law on Immigration will be put onto the immigration management system blacklist and will not be allowed to enter Cambodia again.
“The Cambodian authorities have arrested foreigners involved in crimes in their countries and deported them as per the spirit of the MoU between the two countries,” the ministry said.
It said some analysts had made remarks based on incomplete information and without a clear legal basis, which could give an inaccurate impression of Cambodia’s law enforcement measures both nationally and internationally.
The ministry’s clarification came after recent criticism by social observers of the deportation of Chinese nationals.
Last week, 128 Chinese were arrested in Preah Sihanouk province for their alleged involvement in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) money extortion scam.
“These people were involved in online scams. When our procedures are complete, the police will send them out of Cambodia,” Y Sokhy, the head of the Department of Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime, told The Post on Thursday.
Dy The Hoya, a senior official at labour rights group Central, said that if Cambodia was managed well, Chinese nationals would be punished according to the Kingdom’s laws and would not dare to continue committing crimes.
However, he still urged Cambodia to strictly enforce the law to control immigrants.
“It is clear – wrong is wrong, right is right. Today there is criticism of Chinese nationals using cars with state number plates, military number plates and police number plates.
“When we have no control and they do what they want as long as they have money, there is anarchy. It makes people think that anyone who has money can do whatever they want. So I want to see if we can change that. Any crime committed in Cambodia should be punished in Cambodia,” The Hoya said.
The National Police website quoted Ministry of Interior secretary of state Sok Phal as saying that of some 200,000 Chinese nationals living in the Kingdom, more than 78,000 reside in Preah Sihanouk province – but only 20,000 have work permits.
The ministry has said that from 2014 until the end of July, more than 2,700 Chinese nationals had been deported.