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New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

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A total of 106 Vietnamese are deported for working without a permit on June 1. General Department of Immigration

New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations.

GDI director-general Kirth Chantharith said the main content of the bill focused on preventing foreigners who had committed offences from entering Cambodia and imposing penalties on offenders.

“The draft law also improves control of foreigners living in Cambodia, both foreign investors and immigrants,” he said, adding that this law was of prime importance to the nation.

Poly Da, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said the draft law seemed complete, but the meeting was held to garner opinions and input from specialists to bring the entire content in line with the current situation.

“I encourage GDI specialists to further examine the content and wording so that the new draft law is accurate,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said the new draft law is timely and warranted as many foreigners are residing and working in Cambodia.

“In fact, we already have an immigration law, but it seems inadequate for controlling immigrants in Cambodia. So, the law should be amended to respond to the current situation and new developments in the modern digital age,” he said.

Sam Ath said Cambodia must have a good law to seriously control immigration because the old law had a lot of loopholes.

“Since 1979, immigration issues have remained an unsolved problem. The law was put in place, but its implementation was not effective. So, immigration problems still persisted until now. If we have a standard law, I think it can control immigrants more effectively,” he said.

He said that currently some immigrants had not only lived in Cambodia illegally but had also committed offences.

“Other countries used both technological systems and the law to control immigration. If immigrants commit cybercrimes, they managed to control them,” he said, adding that the draft law should be receiving more input from relevant stakeholders to make it comprehensive and effective.

In a report on June 15, the GDI said it had regularly enforced the immigration law on illegal foreigners. It had detained them, built case files for referral to court and deported them.

“Since 2014 until May of this year, the GDI had deported 18,470 illegal foreigners of 104 nationalities including 3,060 females,” the report said.

According to the GDI, more than 140,000 immigrants, mostly Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and US nationals, were residing in Cambodia as of the end of 2020.

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