Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - HRW to Aus: Refugees need proper documents

HRW to Aus: Refugees need proper documents

HRW to Aus: Refugees need proper documents

Since the government took over refugee processing from the UN in 2009, not a single refugee has received a residence card, cutting off access to many basic services that require a certain level of documentation, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The group said their findings mean the Australian government must pressure Cambodia to implement reforms before any refugees arrive from Nauru under a resettlement arrangement inked in September.

Under Cambodian law, the government is required to issue residency cards to refugees, but “not a single refugee has ever received a Cambodian residence card, let alone citizenship,” HRW’s Australia director Elaine Pearson said.

Instead of residence cards – which are required to acquire citizenship via naturalisation under the Nationality Law – refugees have only been issued a prakas declaring their refugee status.

But they have not received international travel documents either, HRW said.

One refugee told the group that the prakases were “absolutely useless”.

“To get a job, a driver’s licence, open a bank account, buy a motorbike, or even receive a wire transfer, you need to show a passport, not this piece of paper.”

Cambodia’s agreement with Australia specifies refugees will receive residence cards, ID cards and travel documents, but HRW said “this seems unlikely” given the current situation.

Suong Sok, a senior official at the refugee office, said that HRW was “wrong” and that the prakas provided adequate documentation to refugees.

“It’s legal refugee status. That one is enough,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Breaking: Rubbish found packed inside 83 containers at S'ville port

    Eighty-three containers packed with rubbish were broken open at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port by joint authorities on Tuesday. The origin of the containers has yet to be ascertained, Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said. Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said

  • VIP prison scrapped amid much criticism

    The Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday that Cambodia’s first privately run prison, which was to allow prisoners with enough money to upgrade to more comfortable cells, has been scrapped. Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said studies had found that no other country in the