Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday said 70,000 foreign nationals in Cambodia are holding irregular immigration documents, threatening legal action against the officials who wrongly issued the papers.
Mr Kheng made the comments while presiding over a meeting at the ministry in which he announced plans to revoke the irregular documents from their holders.
“We cannot be patient because this is a national problem that must be solved,” said Mr Kheng.
General Sok Phal, director-general of the General Department of Immigration, said authorities had found more than 70,000 foreigners, mostly Vietnamese nationals, holding improperly issued documents during a recent crackdown.
Mr Phal said that five nationalities make up the 70,000, including Vietnamese, Lao, Chinese, Thai, and Bangladeshi.
He added that the holders of such documents will be deported in the future.
“We will not kill them like the Lon Nol or Pol Pot regime,” said Mr Phal.
The government has recently been increasing enforcement of immigration laws, cracking down on improper documents, visas and work permits.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said that foreigners using irregular documents have no respect for Cambodia’s laws and are a threat to society.
“I urge the authorities to confiscate land from any foreigners who have purchased it while holding irregular documents,” he said. “We must also deport them from Cambodia.”
Mr Chey also urged Mr Kheng to follow through on his warning against officials issuing the irregular documents.
“I think his warning is good, but whether it’s implemented is another story,” he said.