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Hundreds of foreigners granted citizenship

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Actress Angelina Jolie was awarded Cambodian citizenship in 2005. Supplied

Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday called on the government to amend the law on nationalisation and immigration, while a report from the general department of identification revealed 1,518 foreigners were granted Cambodian nationality from 2014 to 2017.

Presiding over the department’s annual meeting, Mr Kheng said the current law on identification and immigration was created in 1994.

“This law is no longer appropriate, so we’re asking the government to amend it or create a new law to replace it,” he said.

Mr Kheng added that he recently spoke to Prime Minister Hun Sen about the law, who requested it be updated.

Mr Kheng said he would create a working group taking into account stakeholders from relevant countries, while the ministry would review legal instruments to implement the changes.

He said that anyone requesting Cambodian nationality was required to pay a fee to the state, and the ministry would study whether that is appropriate, and what the fee should amount to.

“We will study this with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and other relevant ministries,” he said.

General Mao Chandara, general-director of the general department of identification, said that more than 1,000 foreigners received Cambodian nationality between 2014 and 2017.

Among them, he said some received nationality by investing in the country, while others got it through marriage to a Cambodian national.

“The law states that if a foreigner had 1,250 million riel – roughly $300,000 – to invest in the country and had a home address in Cambodia, they were eligible for gaining nationality,” Gen Chandara said.

He said other criteria for foreigners to be eligible included a donation of 1,000 million riel to the state in order to build the Cambodian economy, or having lived in the country for at least seven years.

The actress Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous foreigners to have been awarded Cambodian citizenship. She was given the honour by King Norodom Sihamoni in 2005, in recognition of her conservation work.

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