Arriving Deportees Scheduled for Detention

A senior police official said Wednesday that the nine Cambo­dian deportees scheduled to ar­rive today will be held at immigration police headquarters for be­tween four to six weeks while po­lice conduct checks to identify whether the detainees still have relatives living in Cambodia—a move that sparked criticism from human rights officials and legal experts.

During the detention period, the police will also brief the de­portees on health and legal is­sues, and will monitor their conduct to identify potential security risks, the official said.

“Bearing in mind these return­ees are ex-convicts, there are many considerations and many factors to take into account,” the official said. “They are our compatriots…but the security measures must not be compromised.”

Local authorities in the areas where the deportees will be sent also must plan for their relocation and will be asked to keep a close watch on their future behavior, the official said.

“There is absolutely no legal basis for the detention of the de­portees,” said Heidi Lichteveld, a legal adviser with Legal Aid of Cambodia. “There is no law in Cambodia saying [the deportees] should be detained—they are Cam­bodian citizens.”

Naly Pilorge, director of Lica­dho, also questioned the le­gality of the proposed four- to six-week detention of the Cambo­dians.

“We asked the government the reasons for the detention—for the responsibility and sponsorships, and the monthly reporting [the deportees] must comply with, and the government’s re­sponse has been unclear,” Pi­lorge said.

Previously, the government has held groups of Cambodian deportees for between 12 days and one month.

 

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