Gov’t Says It Dealt Legally With Chinese

The government has denied allegations that laws were broken when hundreds of illegal Chi­nese were deported recently without trial.

A Ministry of Interior statement dated Wednesday states the decision to expel Chinese was consistent with article 29 of the immigration law. It followed public criticism from opposition parliamentarians and legal ex­perts that the foreigners should have faced a judge.

“The Ministry of Interior would like to clarify to international and national public opinion that the dispatch of illegal immigrants form Cambodia was made in accordance with the decision of the co-Ministers of Interior following the immigration law, [article 29], parts 36, 37,” according to the statement.

It underlined that the government is allowed to expel illegal immigrants and said sentencing them to between three and six months—which the law allows—would have been an economic burden for the government.

Ang Eng Thong, head of the Cam­bo­dian Bar Association, said last month that the government had interfered with the judicial pro­cess following the cancellation in September of a sche­duled Muni­cipal Court appearance for more than 200 illegal Chinese nationals.

Shortly after, the illegals were clandestinely deported on two planes chartered by the Chinese government.

The Sam Rainsy Party also questioned why the immigrants were deported without trial.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday the decision to deport illegal immigrants without trial was not due to political pressure from the Chinese Embassy.

He said the Chinese government did complain that their nationals were being singled out.

“They said that it was a systematic campaign against the Chi­nese,” said Khieu Kanharith adding Chinese officials complained about the publicity and not the issue of court appearances.

But in mid October Chinese Ambassador Yan Ting Ai told Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara his crackdown on a Chinese human smuggling operation in Cambodia was discriminatory because it did not target other nationalities.


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