Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US may end visa ban if deportations approved




US may end visa ban if deportations approved

US Assistant Secretary of State Carl Risch (left) speaks as US Ambassador William Heidt looks on during a press conference in Phnom Penh on Friday. AFP
US Assistant Secretary of State Carl Risch (left) speaks as US Ambassador William Heidt looks on during a press conference in Phnom Penh on Friday. AFP

US may end visa ban if deportations approved

A US State Department official said visa sanctions on top Cambodian foreign affairs officials could be lifted “in the near future” if the Cambodian government follows through on promises to begin accepting deportees again.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch, who travelled to Phnom Penh to meet with Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Friday, said at a short press conference that Cambodian officials had been “very supportive in trying to improve the process”.

“I would like to see the sanctions be lifted and Cambodia be cooperative again in taking back their nationals,” Risch said.

Cambodia’s reluctance to issue travel documents for Cambodian citizens convicted of crimes in the US caused a diplomatic rift last year, with the US placing visa sanctions on top Foreign Affairs officials in retaliation.

The repatriation program has been criticised by both immigration advocates and Cambodian officials for being inhumane. Most of the deportees were brought to the US as refugee children fleeing the Khmer Rouge and have spent the vast majority of their lives in the US.

Risch said on Friday that visa sanctions would not be lifted until the US Department of Homeland Security and US Department of State were satisfied that the process was “repeatable, dependable and uniform”.
Bill Herod, the founder of the Returnee Integration Support Center (RISC), said officials from both sides have told the organisation to prepare for up to 200 returnees this year, an abnormally large number. By comparison, RISC has received some 550 returnees over the past 15 years.

“That will be a new challenge for us,” said Herod, who added that RISC has had to rent more space and hire more employees to prepare for the influx.

Herod said that while it is true that Cambodia is legally obligated to take back its nationals, he wished US authorities would take into account the severity of their crimes and their contributions to the community.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached yesterday.

On Friday, Risch sidestepped questions about whether he believed the deportations to be unjust.

“We see this as something that’s necessary in the US to make sure that the rule of law is respected and that the countries are cooperating with us in making sure they take back their repatriation cases,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15