The Foreign Ministry has canceled the diplomatic passport of Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister, an official said Tuesday.
Chhay Sokhan, director of the ministry’s consular department, said the cancellation was in accordance with a new government decree which stipulates which Cambodians can hold diplomatic passports. The cancellation was not related to the long-awaited Khmer Rouge trial, he said.
“He is a simple citizen, so his diplomatic passport must be canceled,” Chhay Sokhan said. “He has the right to have a normal passport just like anyone else, but not a diplomatic one.”
Chhay Sokhan said Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong sent Ieng Sary a letter informing him the passport was being revoked. Reached by telephone in Phnom Penh, Ieng Sary said he was aware of the cancellation but declined to comment on it.
According to the new decree, current government officials with the rank of director-general or higher; infantry, marine and air force commanders; military police commanders; and RCAF and police officials ranked deputy commander-in-chief or higher may hold diplomatic passports.
Previously, any official could be granted a diplomatic passport by individual royal decree. “Now we have eliminated all diplomatic passports not allowed by the [new] decree. This is a good practice,” Chhay Sokhan said.
Ieng Sary was the third highest-ranking official in the Khmer Rouge regime, serving as deputy prime minister in addition to foreign minister. He defected to the government in 1996, a move observers say helped end years of civil war.