Although the law entitles them to citizenship and identity cards, members of the Khmer Krom community in Kandal province’s Kien Svay district said Monday they were denied identity cards during a registration campaign in March.
About 70 families in Prek Eng commune, who claim to be of Cambodian ethnicity but have members born in southern Vietnam, also known as Kampuchea Krom, were unable to register, said Ang Chanrith, acting director for the Khmer Krom Human Rights Organization.
“The law states that anyone of Khmer origin shall acquire Khmer nationality, regardless of where he or she was born,” Ang Chanrith said on Monday. “I appeal to the Ministry of Interior to issue a directive to the commune level.”
Most of the 70 Khmer Krom families have Cambodian family books, voter registration cards and other documents proving their identity. Having missed the registration campaign, they fear they will have to wait as long as 10 years for another chance to secure their status as citizens, said Ang Chanrith.
Khmer Krom minority member Ly Sok said Monday that Prek Eng commune police denied her request for identity cards, despite the fact that she had a family book.
“I saw those who paid [bribes] get them,” she said, adding that her children could not get jobs in garment factories because they lacked papers. “My children were born in Cambodia and they were also denied,” she said.
Prek Eng commune police chief Mao Rith referred questions to provincial and district authorities.
Chea Bunthoeun, the deputy governor of Kien Svay district, said that the registration campaign had issued 4,000 identity cards to residents of Prek Eng and Veal Sbov communes, and that he had heard no complaint about discrimination against those born in Vietnam.
He said that as far as he knew there were not many Khmer Krom in Prek Eng commune, but added that if any can prove their Cambodian origin and residency, then they should get identity cards from the state.