Marriage Ban Lifted; Officials Unaware of Decree, However

A temporary ban on marriages between Cambodians and foreigners was lifted when Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a subdecree earlier this month to once again allow international unions, but provincial and municipal authorities remain un­aware of the change, officials said Thursday.

The ban was imposed March 29 after an International Organiza­tion for Migration report highlighted the vulnerability of Cambodian brides who were going to South Korea in droves, often through unregulated brokerage agencies.

Although the 14-article subdecree, which ended the marriage ban, was signed Nov 3, Secretary of State Chou Bun Eng said the Min­istry of Interior did not receive a copy of the official document until last week.

“Municipal and provincial authorities are not yet aware of the cease yet, which is why we need to publicize [it] in order to let all people and officials enforce the new subdecree at the same time,” she said.

A meeting will be scheduled in late December or in early January to inform municipal and provincial governors of the ban, Chou Bun Eng said.

Phnom Penh municipal registrar office chief Uk Kheang was not aware of any order from the Interior Ministry to lift the ban.

“So far I have not received or seen a letter or order from the ministry over the lift of the ban,” he said, add­ing he has not yet inform­ed all district authorities about the subdecree.

Chhun Sirun, Kandal province gov­ernor, has not announced the subdecree to his province either.

“I am not aware the subdecree has been approved and the ban lifted,” he said Thursday. “I would de­clare and allow my people to marry foreigners whenever I officially ob­tain the order.”

The 10th article of the subdecree is the most important one, Chou Bun Eng said. Under this article, registrar officials who issue marriage permits are required to ask a foreigner seeking to marry a Cam­bodian to post the permit at his or her country’s embassy in Cambodia.

The third article, she said, completely bans marriages arranged through middlemen or unregistered marriage brokerage firms.

            (Additional reporting by Lea Radick)

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