Immigration authorities and the police yesterday detained nearly 30 Vietnamese migrant workers and one Belgian national for questioning regarding their legal status in the country.
Uk Haiseila, chief of investigations with the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department, said that officers of the General Department of Immigration and Kandal provincial police coordinated with Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Kandal Provincial Court to check the legal status of Vietnamese nationals at construction sites along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh and Kandal province.
During the operation, authorities found 28 Vietnamese nationals using improper immigration documents, prompting the police to detain them and send them to the Immigration Department for questioning pending legal action.
“They used expired passports and some of them didn’t even have a passport. They said that their passports expired in Vietnam, so they came to Cambodia to work on sand-dredging vessels,” Mr Haiseila said. “We are asking them which border gate they came in from, how they penetrated the checkpoint without proper documents and because of all this, we are asking the ministry to deport them all.”
Mr Haiseila said that police have also arrested a Belgian national without an address who was walking around Phnom Penh without his passport.
Chea Chetra, chief of compliance procedure with the municipal police, identified the Belgian national as Tant Xavier Amdre Seam, 43. He was arrested by police on Street 66 in Boeng Trabek commune.
He said that Mr Seam slept on public roads and had no specific job and held no passport.
“The information on Facebook is that this foreigner was homeless and he slept on the streets,” Mr Chetra said. “He told people he lost his passport, causing people to feel sorry for him and give him $10 to $20 at a time.”
Mr Chetra said Mr Seam first entered Cambodia for the first time in 1995 and a second time in 2008, adding that the Belgian national was sent to the General Department of Immigration.