How Cambodia’s political refugees are being betrayed by US legal system

Despite documented cases of torture and abuse, immigration court files obtained by Southeast Asia Globe reveal that the US is sending Cambodian asylum seekers back to face certain persecution.

In July 1992, Ly Sitha and her husband, Thavy Nhao, were visited at their Phnom Penh home by a police lieutenant named Sok Vibol as he sought shelter from the monsoon rains.

It was a politically fraught summer. The United Nations had touched down in Cambodia just a few months earlier on its $1.6 billion mission to organise the country’s first elections in decades, and all factions were keen to ensure that the outcome guaranteed them a share of the spoils. While Khmer Rouge holdouts dominated much of the countryside, incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s Funcinpec were the capital’s frontrunners.

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