Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN strong in protest at deportations



UN strong in protest at deportations

UN strong in protest at deportations

T HE UN's Human Rights Envoy to Cambodia has slammed a decision to repatriate a group

of 19 political dissidents to Vietnam as a snub to accepted international practice.

"This is a very serious rejection of the international mechanism when it comes

to upholding the rights of refugees," according to Thomas Hammarberg - the UN

Secretary General's Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia.

"The end result is that you now have an unnecessary situation where this country

may be criticized for its bad handling of this case," he said.

The fate of the nineteen deported to Vietnam remained unclear at press time after

their Dec 6 deportation and arrest by Vietnamese authorities later the same day.

Eight others, who were in possession of Cambodian citizenship papers, were released

by Phnom Penh authorities after being warned not to participate in anti-Hanoi activities.

Another man - an American citizen - was deported to the US because his Cambodian

visa had reportedly expired.

The 28 - including three women and a monk- are members of the People's Action Party

of Free Vietnam (PAPFV), a group which Hanoi claims is dedicated to the overthrow

of Vietnam's government.

The PAPFV is said to have several hundred members, many of whom are alleged to have

been officers in the former Army of the Republic of Vietnam which was defeated by

communist forces in 1975.

Officials claim the group was arrested after they violated Cambodian immigration

law by attempting to enter Thailand through the border town of Poipet in order to

attend a PAPFV meeting.

According to a human rights worker who interviewed members of the group before the

deportation, they were arrested Nov 30 before being trucked to a detention center

at Pochentong airport.

Their swift deportation brought strong protests from both the UN Center for Human

Rights and the UN Commission for Refugees as being unduly hasty and in contravention

of an international treaty signed by Cambodia.

According to Special Representative Hammarberg, the spirit of Cambodia's reaction

to the group was "very negative".

"Here you have a group of people, some of whom didn't have [citizenship] documentation,

but who were asking for asylum because of the risk of detention they faced in Vietnam,"

he said.

Cambodia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention which states that such claims

should be investigated, but in this case those claims were not, he said.

"The United Nation's High Commission for Refugees is here [in Cambodia] to help

the government in terms of it meeting its obligations to that convention. They had

already started their work and had appealed for more time, but the deportations went

ahead anyway.

"Niether I nor the high Commissioner's office can see the need for this situation,"

Hammarberg said.

The latest incident follows similar deportations earlier this year. On March 9 Ly

Chandara - the editor of the Vietnamese language newspaper Tudo (Freedom) - was arrested

and handed over to Vietnamese authorities on the Cambodia-Vietnam border.

The deportation of two other men associated with Chandara and three ethnic Vietnamese

with US nationality around the same time, prompted a group of more than 50 Vietnamese

to seek asylum at the US embassy in Phnom Penh on March 15.

Asylum was refused on the strength of assurances from Interior Minister Sar Kheng

that the asylum seekers would not be deported if they obeyed Cambodian law.

According to human rights sources, Ly Chandara and another March deportee, Ly Thara,

have since returned to Cambodia but have been warned not to get involved in anti-Hanoi

politics.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration