Census Used to Identify Those Without Work Permits

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday clarified that an ongoing census of foreign nationals was part of a larger drive to enforce a long-ignored law that requires nonnatives employed in Cambodia to hold work permits.

Mr. Kheng said the government was taking a two-pronged approach to implementing existing immigration and labor laws, which has seen 10 Vietnamese nationals deported over the past two week.

“After we [conduct the census], we will find out who the illegal and legal residents are, as well as the skilled workers from other countries who have no work permits,” Mr. Kheng told reporters on the sidelines of a forum on fire management in Phnom Penh.

“The immigration law created the mechanism, and it is now our obligation to plan and act. We are taking our first steps and going into the provinces to carry out a census of all foreigners,” Mr. Kheng said.

“We will find out who is illegal and legal,” he added.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday that the census would also identify “any foreigners who use tourist passports to work in Cambodia,” who would then be fined and deported.

Chea Bunthoeun, deputy police chief of Ratanakkiri province, said Wednesday that four more Vietnamese nationals were deported on Tuesday afternoon.

“Now we are continuing to do the census and we especially want to carry it out in [the provincial capital] Banlung City, because there are many Vietnamese people living there,” he said.

Mr. Bunthoeun said immigration officials have already surveyed Ratanakkiri, Mondolkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie provinces.

Stung Treng’s deputy provincial police chief, Seng Vutha, said officials in the province had visited all “foreigners who have permanent addresses.”

“We found more than 40 Vietnamese and Chinese nationals who only had tourist visas in their passports, but were hiding as workers in some handicraft factories and hydroelectric-dam sites,” Mr. Vutha said.

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