IN spite of very public statements by the United Nations Human Rights Field Office
and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees prior to Assembly debate on
the immigration law, the final law was relatively unchanged.
"All the commission discussion to UNHCR and NGOs had no impression on the law,"
National Assembly member Son Chhay said.
Though criticism was detailed, two major concerns stood out: the lack of a nationality
law, and the possibility that implemention would produce waves of refugees and massive
human rights violations.
Lt-Gen Tol Lah the secretary general of the National Assembly said that the Interior
Ministry was almost finished with the nationality law and that the National Assembly
would receive it by the end of the year.
On implementation, Lah, said: "We strongly believe that the bill is a good one.
There are provisions consistent with international practice, law, treaties and covenants
that the Royal Government has signed."
"The law cannot be implemented immediately. There are circulars and sub-decrees
(anu-krit) to be issued first. This will take some time," Tol Lah said.
"Since we recieved a letter from King Sihanouk expressing the concerns of [Vietnamese]
President Le Duc Anh about the law, a process of consultation has begun. The bill
has not been implemented yet. We haven't done anything yet."
Assembly member Ahmad Yahya said: "The majority of the Assembly members feel
that we should not reconvene, just for the sake of re-considering the bill. We will
contact the government to ask the government's opinion, because they are the one
who are to implement the law. The law has already been passed.
"But we do not want to see the government apply this law in a way that will
affect the Vietnamese civilians in the country. Most members of the Parliament feel
that we cannot afford camps [economically].
"Some members of the National Assembly will monitor the government's implementation.
The Parliamentary Organization for Social Development and Democracy will watch the
"We will raise our voice if there is any action that affects human rights in
The organization is a bi-partisan parliamentary organization.
Yayha, who is an ethnic Cham and who voted against the immigration law explained
why protections for abuse were not included to the degree they were in the bill outlawing
"The situation with the KR is different from the Vietnamese. The majority of
the people hate the KR, but are concerned about the Vietnamese. The people worry
about the history between Vietnam and Cambodia. They do not want to lose their identity.
We do not want to become a second country for Vietnam in the next 50-100 years. We
have to care about ourselves before we care about other people.
"But we do not want the government's implementation to violate the human rights
of the Vietnamese. But the world, before they accuse us, they should look at the
emotion of our people, what they want, the future of our country. In the next 100-200
years, what will happen? Everyone must be concerned."