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

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Bumpy road for local ride apps

    Ride-hailing services seem to have grown into a dominant player in the capital’s transportation sector. Relatively unknown and little used in the Kingdom at the beginning of this year, services like PassApp, Grab and ExNet are now commonplace on Phnom Penh streets. However, the

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in