Vietnam yesterday called on the government to guarantee the legal rights of Vietnamese migrants living here after immigration officials last week said they would revoke the invalid documents of 70,000 immigrants, most of them ethnic Vietnamese.
Le Thi Thu Hang, spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, said she hoped the government would take appropriate measures to guarantee the legal and legitimate rights of ethnic Vietnamese in the country.
“We hope that while people are waiting for their legal documents to be completed, they will be able to maintain a stable life and continue contributing to Cambodia’s socio-economic development,” she added.
Last week, immigration authorities said they would seize documents issued improperly to 70,000 people, most of them ethnic Vietnamese, but they have not threatened their forcible removal.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak responded to Vietnam’s statement yesterday.
“We will not use the lessons from the Lon Nol and Pol Pot regimes to deport illegal immigrants or kill them,” Mr Sopheak said. “We will implement both the law and humanitarian standards too.”
General Sok Phal, director-general of the general department of immigration, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Last week, Mr Phal said five nationalities make up the 70,000, including Vietnamese, Lao, Chinese, Thai, and Bangladeshi.
Mr Phal said that the individuals would be labelled as illegal migrants, but would not be forcibly removed.
They should contact local authorities to see whether they are entitled to immigrant status due to the amount of time they have lived in Cambodia, he noted.
Since April 2014 until May this year, 11,661 immigrants from 72 countries have been deported and barred permanently from the kingdom, of which 9,927 were Vietnamese nationals.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached for comment yesterday.