Kem Sokha Urges Australia to Rethink Refugee Deal

National Assembly First Vice President Kem Sokha sent a letter this week to Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, requesting that she and the Australian government reconsider a controversial agreement signed last month to send refugees who intended to reach Australia’s shores to Cambodia instead.

Mr. Sokha writes that he has met with monks, students, intellectuals and other Khmer people to discuss the deal, and that these groups have legitimate concerns that the refugees would have a negative impact on Cambodia’s economy and society. 

“I understand that their concerns are well-founded according to practical situations,” he writes.

“Therefore, I am writing to Your Excellency and your Government to reconsider the transfer of refugees from Nauru to the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

Muth Chantha, the director of Mr. Sokha’s cabinet, said the ambassador had yet to reply to the letter, which was delivered on Monday.

Contacted Thursday night, Australian Embassy spokesman Simon Fellows said he was unable to respond to questions about the letter.

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