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Sar Kheng to cops: Keep foreigners safe

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Interior minister Sar Kheng speaks during the annual meeting on combating human trafficking on April 7. INTERIOR MINISTRY

Sar Kheng to cops: Keep foreigners safe

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng reminded police officers at both the national and sub-national levels that the use of threats and violence against foreigners was strictly forbidden and that actions such as those were contrary to the national interest because they discouraged other foreigners from visiting or investing in Cambodia.

Sar Kheng made the remarks while presiding over the closing ceremony at the annual review meeting for the General Department of Immigration on April 6 in the capital.

He said that while it was important to maintain control over the Kingdom’s borders and to record the presence of foreigners as they enter Cambodia, as a matter of basic national security and the maintenance of public order, officials should maintain a friendly and helpful attitude when interacting with them.

“We also want to guarantee the safety of foreigners and encourage them to visit in order to give a boost to the nation’s socio-economic development. We try to encourage immigrants from all walks of life to come to live in Cambodia – legal immigrants, of course – and we want to make sure that they are able to live a comfortable life here without threats, without violence, without fraud, robbery or pick-pocketing. If we encourage their presence and make them feel welcome, they will in turn mobilise other foreigners to invest in Cambodia,” he said.

He stressed to those present the importance of the police’s role in maintaining public order – including strengthening the assistance and protection available to foreigners – while also being mindful of preventing transnational crime, particularly at the borders.

GDI director-general Kirth Chantharith also spoke at the event and discussed strategies to increase the effectiveness of the provision of immigration services and improving the system for the management of foreigners given that those tasks contribute greatly to the maintenance of security, social order and the development of the nation.

Pum Vithya, the GDI’s head of administration, said they were steadily improving the management of the database tracking the residences of foreigners regarding the management of foreigners’ residence.

He said that as of June 30, 2019, the GDI had been conducting a campaign to carry out a census and in the process of doing so they had revoked 28,945 irregular or illegitimate administrative documents from families totalling 89,786 people.

He went on to say that the arrival of foreign visitors to Cambodia had drastically decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic – a drop of 90.67 per cent compared to 2020 and a drop of 97.65 per cent over the previous year.

Overall, the pandemic had decreased tourism by over 95 per cent while also negatively impacting charitable donations to the Kingdom, which saw a drop of 61.46 per cent

Furthermore, the number of Cambodians travelling abroad decreased by 92.21 per cent and 45.64 per cent of the remainder were actually just Cambodian migrant workers who had been deported back to the Kingdom from Thailand.

He said the current figures available for 2021 indicated that a total of 147,777 foreign travellers of 158 nationalities had entered the country, with about 89,184 of them travelling here for business or trade. Tourists accounted for just 11,526 visitors or about 7.79 per cent and the remainder were 1,085 diplomats from various nations.

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