The government plans to crackdown on immigrants holding illegal or irregular paperwork to live, work and vote in the country, according to a sub-decree obtained yesterday.
The sub-decree, issued last week, did not specifically identify which illegal documents the government is targeting, but said any foreigner caught with fake documents, or irregularly issued documents, will face the law.
“Any foreigner who continues to use improper Cambodian administrative documents or any person who secretly conspires, cheats or continues to provide improper Cambodian administrative documents to foreigners shall be liable and punished,” the sub-decree said.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said that the crackdown may face obstacles because immigrants may be using fake documents for a range of different purposes.
“This crackdown needs to be systematic, and I see that there are likely a lot of obstacles,” he said. “And for the documents, there will be more stakeholders, such as the question: who issued those illegal or irregular documents to the immigrants?”
Seoung Sen Karona, a human rights monitor for Adhoc, said that the crackdown needs to target all nationalities, and not just the thousands of Vietnamese in the country.
The crackdown is likely to harm Vietnamese immigrants living in Cambodia most, he noted, even though Cambodian authorities regularly deport Vietnamese immigrants.
Director of the Immigration Department Sok Phal said two days ago that there are nearly 76,000 immigrants holding Cambodian administrative documents, with the majority of them being Vietnamese.
Mr Phal added that since April 2014, police have arrested and deported 11,661 illegal immigrants from 72 countries, including 9,927 Vietnamese.
President of the Vietnamese Association in Cambodian Sim Chy declined to comment.