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US visa sanctions hit Cambodians

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodians visit the US embassy’s visa office in Phnom Penh yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The United States will impose visa sanctions on Cambodia and other countries that do not cooperate with the US to repatriate their nationals who are in the US illegally.

According to CNN, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Dave Lapan said on Wednesday that the US would impose additional sanctions on four countries.

He did not specify why those four countries, including Cambodia, were selected.

The countries were chosen after the US designated them as recalcitrant in July for refusing to take back nationals, delaying repatriation, or flatly rejecting it when the US wanted to deport illegal immigrants.

CNN cited a source saying that the countries were Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Citizens of these countries will face restrictions that could lead to visa rejection and prevention from entering the US.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry could not be reached for comment, while US Embassy information officer David Josar declined to comment.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Cambodia always cooperated with the US over the repatriation of Cambodian nationals.

“This does not mean that we have not cooperated with the US, we always cooperate with them,” he said. “We just want the US to consider human rights sometimes.”

Mr Siphan said Cambodia valued human rights and the deportation of some Cambodians from the US separated them from their families, which was inhumane and unacceptable.

This year, Cambodia has agreed to receive 34 deportees, however only eight have been repatriated so far. From 2002 until last year, 549 people were forced to return to Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the US to amend the agreement covering the repatriation of Cambodians convicted of crimes. Cambodia wants to amend the agreement based on human rights.

Mr Hun Sen has said that once deported, convicted Cambodians would be away from their children, wives and families forever.

After a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn and US deputy assistant secretary of state Patrick Murphy in April, ministry spokesman Chum Sounry confirmed that the deportation of Cambodian criminals convicted in the US would be suspended pending revisions of the agreement.

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