The Ministry of Interior and Laos’ Ministry of Public Security have agreed to make it more convenient for citizens from the two countries to cross one another’s borders, whether for business, tourism or family reunion.
Interior minister Sar Kheng and Lao public security minister Vilay Lakhamphong co-chaired a March 19 meeting to review the outcome of their cooperation in 2022. The meeting took place during Sar Kheng’s March 18-20 visit.
“The two sides assessed their relationship and cooperation between local authorities and law enforcement. The outcome was positive and they pledged to continue to communicate regularly. They will exchange information on the security situation and other issues in their respective geographical areas,” said a March 21 press release from the interior ministry.
It added that cooperation to suppress all kinds of cross-border crimes – and to facilitate the entry and exit of people through border gates – is of the utmost importance.
“Despite the challenges of the global crises of the past year, each side commended their counterparts for the close attention they paid to adhering to their 2022 note of cooperation. In particular, they praised the regular meetings, exchanges and training between the units of the two ministries,” it said.
“[They] agreed to enhance cooperation between their respective border authorities and law enforcement branches, and announced their intention to make it easier for the people of both nations to meet face-to-face,” it added.
Intelligence sharing between law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border would also be stepped up, in order to crack down on cross-border crimes, particularly smuggling and human trafficking.
“The two ministers also agreed that any potential issues would be resolved peacefully, based on the principle of mutual respect for one another’s independence, sovereignty and integrity. This includes incidents where a non-demarcated borderline may create a challenge,” said the release.
“The two sides look forward to celebrating each other’s major national and international events, both in 2023 and in the years to come.”
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that facilitating the legal entry and exit of both countries’ citizens through the border gates is an excellent step, as at present, rumours abound about drug traffickers using the large number of people crossing in more remote areas to mask their activities.
“It is very important that they strengthen this work, as tonnes of drugs have been seized on the border between Laos and Cambodia. Drugs are scourge on society, and threaten the welfare of the Kingdom. It appears that drug use in more prevalent in remote areas, because of the ease of transporting it across the border,” he told The Post on March 21.
“In accordance with their joint statement, I hope that border patrols are stepped up,” he added.
Peou said he was also pleased to hear that legal border crossings would be made simpler, as it would benefit those with families on the other side, and make it easier for people to seek medical treatment in border areas.