Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prime Minister calls on US to revise law

Prime Minister calls on US to revise law

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a National Institute of Education graduation ceremony yesterday in Phnom Penh. FACEBOOK

Prime Minister calls on US to revise law

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday defended himself from critics who claim the massive flow of workers leaving the country is indicative of a lack of development at home, and sought to clarify any misunderstanding on Cambodia’s recent request to amend a repatriation agreement with the US.

During a speech at a graduation ceremony for the National Institute of Education yesterday, Hun Sen said the deportation agreement – under which the US has sent hundreds of Cambodians with criminal convictions back to the Kingdom – has not yet been cancelled but appealed to the US to amend it for humanitarian reasons.

Hun Sen added that the Cambodian government has an obligation to support the rights of its citizens living in the US. He criticised the deportation practice for breaking up families and used the opportunity to take a sly dig at Washington, which has been the subject of repeated attacks by Cambodian officials of late.

“This is a pitiful separation . . . The Cambodian government must think about its people . . . We hope the US, which claims to be the father of democracy, will respect human rights and accept a request for an amendment in order to allow Cambodian convicts to continue to live in the US with their families,” he said.

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn made a similar request to visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy earlier this week. Representatives from the US Embassy have only said the issue will be discussed in the coming months.

Turning his attention to the millions of Cambodians who leave the country for better paying jobs, Hun Sen yesterday maintained that the exodus was actually a positive.

“There are some brothers and sisters that discredit the government by saying that I have been ruling the country for years and always talk about development, but people are still going abroad to be servants,” Hun Sen said, adding that workers in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines also flock to more developed countries.

“They should consider the benefits of open borders and regional integration . . . Please do not forget that even US citizens are seeking employment abroad,” he said, adding that remittances sent home by workers can contribute to national economic growth.

But Moeun Tola, executive director of labour rights group Central, said many Cambodian migrant workers are exploited and don’t make enough money to send much home.

“Most migrant workers are unskilled, and others are illiterate and can’t even write their names. When we send those workers abroad, they are highly susceptible to exploitation. This does nothing to improve family income or economic growth, but they come home significantly poorer,” Tola said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Website advises travellers to stay clear of Angkor Wat

    An Australian website has advised travellers to avoid Angkor Wat during their trip to Southeast Asia because the ancient temple is showing signs of rapid erosion and faced water management issues. In a recent article entitled Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Passenger taxi boat ridership sinks despite free services

    Passenger taxi boat traffic has dropped by about five per cent compared to the same period last year, despite the government providing free service for garment workers until next year, Phnom Penh Autonomous Bus Transportation Authority director Ean Sokhim said on Monday. In 2018, the Phnom

  • Shipments of mango to South Korea poised to begin this week

    Exports of Cambodian mangoes to South Korea will begin this week after Korean authorities gave the nod. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Plant Protection, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements director Ker Monthivuth told The Post on Sunday that after several inspections of

  • Kingdom drafting new law to strengthen immigration

    The Ministry of Interior on Tuesday said it had formed a working group to draft amendments to the Law on Immigration. Its secretary of state Sok Phal told The Post that the amendments will strengthen the management of immigrants in line with the current situation.

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that