Blackout on 6 Deportees Continues

The government continued an information blackout Monday on the case of six Cambodians de­port­ed from the US for committing crimes, asking that the subjects of the country’s first-ever re­patriation from the US not be interviewed by the media.

The case has been closely watched because it is the first action taken under an agreement reached in March that paved the way for the deportation of some 1,431 Cambodian felons living in the US. While the blackout has shielded the deportees from public scrutiny, it has also prevented the work of some in Phnom Penh who want to help them.

The operator of an Internet cafe and guest house who offered to help the deportees e-mail their families in the US says no one has taken up his offer of assistance.

It is unknown if the deportees are being held by authorities or have preferred to stay under im­migration control before they move to locations around the country to live with relatives, said the guest house owner.

A lawyer for at least one of the de­portees said his client may have contacted his fam­ily in the US after landing here Saturday, the guest house owner added. Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy, meanwhile, has appealed to US authorities to stop the de­portations.

“Those mainly young convicts, though born in Cam­bodia, have been raised in the US and are therefore products of Am­erican society,” Sam Rainsy said. “Their families were received in the US as political refugees more than 20 years ago, following trag­edies the US were involved in and—at least partly—responsible for.”

It was not clear when more de­portees would arrive. No meetings are planned of the commission established by the March agreement to oversee deportations, according to a US embassy official. It was at a meeting of the commission that US officials presented paperwork on 28 potential deportees, eventually getting agreement from the Cam­bodian government to accept the six who arrived on a US government jet.


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