Foreigners seeking to marry Cambodian citizens will be forced to be present with their partners at all stages of the marriage process, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.
Mr Kuong explained that the new regulations for foreign marriages were developed to counter international human trafficking.
“The important thing is that we want the man to become involved in all processes of the marriage,” he said by telephone, adding that the new rules were sent to foreign embassies on Thursday. “Necessarily, the couple have to be together at all times of the process. This is to prevent human trafficking.”
Mr Kuong said the government will review how the new regulations work, to see if any further amendments were necessary.
“These [new regulations] will help to cut down the [amount] of the human trafficking in Cambodia and if it is not working we will try our best to find a better way,” he said, adding that most of the regulations were not much different.
Mr Kuong declined to provide a copy of the new regulations yesterday, saying the document was marked as “confidential.”
Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Ministry of the Interior, said the new regulations had been created in response to a scandal last month where a Cambodian woman was found guilty of human trafficking, after she was found to have acted as a “marriage broker” for South Korean men wanting to marry Cambodian women.
“We don’t want the middleman to be involved in the process,” Ms Bun Eng said.
The government suspended all marriages between Cambodian and South Korean citizens on March 5, but Mr Kuong said the new regulations superseded the temporary marriage ban.
Officials at the South Korean Embassy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Officials at other embassies in Phnom Penh said they either hadn’t yet received the new regulations, or could not comment because the document was marked “confidential.”
Neng Vannak, political affairs and press officer at the British Embassy, confirmed that a note on foreign marriages had been received from the government.
“We need time to go through this,” Mr Vannak wrote in an email.