Three Thai nationals jailed on immigration charges are set to walk free after receiving a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday.
On December 9, Siem Reap provincial court convicted the three men of illegal entry and unlawful possession of weapons, sentencing them each to 18 months jail.
Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53 – all from Surin province’s Sangkhla district – were arrested on August 18 by authorities in Oddar Meanchey province.
Their reprieve came after a meeting in Phnom Penh between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya yesterday.
Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said the three men had been released into the custody of visiting Thai officials, in accordance with a pardon signed by the King yesterday.
“We picked them up from Siem Reap [and brought them] to Phnom Penh this morning,” Heng Hak said.
The Bangkok Post quoted Kasit as saying after the meeting that the three men are expected to return to Thailand today, accompanied by Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Kasit, who arrived in Phnom Penh for a two-day visit on Sunday, also met with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Namhong, yesterday.
New migrant regulations
Following the meeting, Hor Namhong told reporters that Thailand had agreed to reopen until 2012 a registration process for migrant labourers that will allow tens of thousands of Cambodian workers currently at risk of deportation to remain in Thailand legally.
The Thai government had previously set a February 2010 deadline for migrant workers to apply for a process known as “nationality verification”, which would allow them to
renew their work permits.
As a result, some 43,301 Cambodian migrants who had been working legally but failed to register for the verification process prior to the deadline faced the possibility of deportation, according to figures provided by the Human Rights and Development Foundation, a Bangkok-based rights group.
Cambodian officials estimated that more than 90,000 Cambodian workers had missed the February registration deadline.
More than 1,000 Cambodian workers were arrested and detained in June for missing the deadline, after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva authorised a crackdown on June 2. Thai officials said in October that they were considering reopening the registration process because of the “backlog” of workers who missed the deadline.
Hor Namhong said yesterday that he and Kasit had also discussed a recent rash of arrests and shootings of Cambodian nationals by Thai border guards, and agreed that Thailand would be more lenient toward Cambodian trespassers.
“I requested that from now on [Thai soldiers] stop using violence or shooting and that if [Cambodians] commit wrongdoing, just arrest them and take legal action,” Hor Namhong said. “[Kasit] promised to do so.”
However, six Cambodians were reportedly injured when Thai border troops fired on them for logging valuable hardwood in Thai territory close to the border with Oddar Meanchey last week.
Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said there have been six separate shooting incidents this year involving Thai troops and Cambodians, including five in which people were killed and one in which a person disappeared.