Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Asylum seeker family awaiting deportation

Asylum seeker family awaiting deportation

1_Police vehicles stand by outside a residence where Montagnard asylum seekers are housed in Phnom Penh. Post staff
Police vehicles stand by outside a residence where Montagnard asylum seekers are housed in Phnom Penh. Post staff

Asylum seeker family awaiting deportation

The asylum applications of all but three Montagnards in Phnom Penh have been rejected, though an appeal window remains open for the group, an official said yesterday, as the government prepares to repatriate at least four members of the ethnic minority back to Vietnam.

Yesterday’s update on the situation of Montagnards remaining in the capital, where they arrived in 2014 and 2015 to seek protection, follows news this week that almost 50 of the asylum seekers fled from Cambodia to Thailand last month in a bid to avoid being sent back to their native home in Vietnam’s central highlands, where they have long complained of political and religious persecution.

According to Grace Bui, a Bangkok-based volunteer for the US-based Montagnard Assistance Project, at least 22 of the group – who fled after the Interior Ministry began a mass round of rejections on March 20 – have arrived in the Thai capital, and seven are preparing to re-apply as asylum seekers with the United Nations.

Bui said the organisation was helping the seven prepare their paperwork. “They are all worried because they have no future but they all said it is much better than going to Vietnam,” she said.

But back in Phnom Penh, the odds of getting asylum for the remaining 96 Montagnards appear slim. Yesterday, Interior Ministry refugee department head Tan Sovichea said evaluations had been finished and all but three men had received a “negative result”.

“There is nothing more to do but wait for them to appeal,” Sovichea said. “Everything will be finalised within one month.”

For a husband and wife and their two young children whose appeal was rejected last month, the process of repatriation began yesterday morning when they were taken to an immigration detention centre near Phnom Penh airport.

Uk Hai Sela, the head of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said the family would be sent home next week after the Vietnamese Embassy signed off on the paperwork.

“They are foreigners who do not have the right to live in Cambodia,” he said.

Vivian Tan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regional spokesperson, said the agency couldn’t comment on individual cases but noted Cambodian law gave all rejected asylum seekers the right to appeal.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway