On the first leg of his six-day official visit to Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch met with Cambodia’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, Sar Kheng, on Friday. A major topic was the future situation of Cambodians deported from the US.
Mr Kheng reassured Mr Ritsch as to the Kingdom’s willingness to continue repatriating Cambodians as agreed upon in the memoranda of understanding from 2002 and 2003. And according to Phat Sophanith, cabinet officer of the interior minister, “Samdech [Sar Kheng] requested that the US increase financial support to repatriated Cambodian citizens so that they may build up their [new] lives in Cambodia, and be re-integrated into society successfully.”
Mr Kheng also told Mr Carl that he hopes the US will retract the visa restrictions imposed upon Cambodians after the CNRP’s dissolution. Mr Carl said he will put the issue up for review, and offered hope for visa restriction repeal when the procedures for repatriation of deported Cambodians run according to plan.
At present a court ruling is in effect stopping deportations. The deportees have been denied opportunity to have the legality of their deportations re-evaluated in court.
The presiding judge wrote, “It is disingenuous for the Government to claim that throughout the many years that Petitioners were permitted to live and work on supervised release, they should not have built up any expectation that they would be permitted to remain in the country.”