City Begins Tentative Efforts To Deport Illegal Immigrants

Phnom Penh Governor Chea So­phara has begun a cautious new effort to send undocumented immigrants home.

No arrests have yet been made of people who lack the proper doc­umentation to live, work or tra­vel in Cambodia—the majority of whom are illegal Vietnamese pro­stitutes—but police have be­gun going from “house to house” to warn people, Chea Sophara said Sunday.

Whether or not a sweep is un­der way, the number of Vietna­mese prostitutes seeking shelter at Afesip, a women’s NGO, has jumped in the last month, regional coordinator Pierre Legros said.

The organization is concerned that prostitutes will be jailed without authorities distinguishing between illegal immigrants and trafficking victims, Legros said.

There was no increase in wom­en seeking shelter at the Cambo­dian Women’s Crisis Center, chief of monitoring Sourn Ratha said. However, the center does have a repatriation system in place with the Ministry of Interior and the Vietnamese embassy to help re­turn illegal immigrants to Viet­nam.

Two Vietnamese women working in the sex trade said last week that they have seen an increased night-time police presence at and around Phnom Penh nightclubs. The women are here illegally.

Chea Sophara said a sweep would not take place until proper procedures were in place for arrests, deportations and documentation. That will take about three weeks, he said.

“I want to meet with [the] Ministry of Interior and the NGOs to do it the right way,” he said.



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