Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Montagnard asylum seeker to get travel documents, says Vietnam




Montagnard asylum seeker to get travel documents, says Vietnam

A Montagnard asylum seeker steps into a police vehicle last week as Immigration Police officials organise his deportation.
A Montagnard asylum seeker steps into a police vehicle last week as Immigration Police officials organise his deportation. Photo supplied

Montagnard asylum seeker to get travel documents, says Vietnam

Vietnam has agreed to issue travel documents for a Montagnard asylum seeker whose claims were rejected by the Cambodian government, an immigration official said yesterday, all but ensuring the man’s forcible deportation to the country he fled.

Uk Hai Sela, immigration investigations chief at the Interior Ministry, said representatives from the Vietnamese Embassy on Monday met and questioned the man, who is of Ede ethnicity – one of several Montagnard, or “mountain people”, groups from Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Hai Sela, however, maintained the man was simply “Vietnamese”.

“He will be deported to Vietnam soon. Maybe today or tomorrow the Vietnamese Embassy will give the travel document,” he said.

When asked about concerns of forcibly returning an asylum seeker to the country he fled fearing persecution, Hai Sela responded: “I cannot deport a refugee; I am deporting an illegal immigrant from Cambodia who came without a passport.”

Interior Minister Sar Kheng told reporters on Monday that the refugee claims of 33 Montagnards had been rejected, throwing doubt on the still-uncertain fate of 38 asylum seekers in Cambodia, although he said he was waiting on an official report and a potential “compromise”.

It remained unclear yesterday if such a compromise referred to UNHCR’s request to relocate 36 of the Montagnards to a safe third country, which the government has so far ignored and which Kheng did not address on Monday.

“There is no hesitation [to grant asylum], but in fact, [experts] have interviewed them – and the experts have not reported to me yet – but they have interviewed them and the [Montagnards] failed for refugee status,” Kheng said.

Sister Denise Coghlan, of the Jesuit Refugee Service, said while 33 claims had indeed been initially rejected, “the process of appeal is ongoing”.

“In my view, many of them have suffered years of imprisonment and torture and they deserve refugee status,” she said.

UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan said the body had not received word from the government on whether they would facilitate the transfer of the 36.

Multiple officials at the Ministry of Interior’s Refugee Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday and Monday either could not be reached, or hung up on
reporters.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia

  • Cambodia, Vietnam exchange border maps amid criticism

    Cambodia and Vietnam formally exchanged border maps on Monday despite criticism from former members of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) that the Kingdom is losing land in the deal. The two countries said agreement on the border is 84 per cent complete, leaving