The government has agreed “in principle” to resettle asylum seekers currently being detained by the Australian government on the tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.
Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the ministry, said after a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong and the visiting U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights that the details of the agreement are now being worked out.
“This case is currently being studied, as the Royal Government has created a special committee to study Australia’s request,” he said.
“In short, the Royal Government has not yet given the okay, but has agreed in principle, which means we still consider and study,” Mr. Borith explained.
“And we will do this in accordance with international standards, because the important thing is that it is voluntary and not by force.”
Mr. Borith also denied that the sticking point was how much money the Australian government would provide to Cambodia to accept refugees.
“For Cambodia, this is just humanitarian policy,” Mr. Borith said.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a television interview on April 10 that his country’s government was nearing a deal that would see the asylum seekers intercepted and detained on Nauru resettled in Cambodia.
Flavia Pansieri, the visiting U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at her own press conference after meeting with Mr. Namhong at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Tuesday that the U.N. would be willing to provide support for such a resettlement deal between Australia, Nauru and Cambodia.
“I have too few elements at this stage to be able to make any firm statements,” Ms. Pansieri said when asked of her opinion of the pending deal.
“What we think is important is to note that Cambodia is well aware of its international commitments to human rights standards, keen to abide by them, and to the extent there is any need for cooperation, we stand ready provide support to ensure that standards are met,” she said.