The National Assembly ratified an extradition treaty with Laos on Wednesday, even as it criticized Thailand for not respecting a similar treaty the two countries signed four years ago.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap lead the charge by accusing Thai officials of detaining Cambodians who illegally immigrated to Thailand for work.
“The treaty has not been implemented” by Thailand, Cheam Yeap said, before urging the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take more active steps to secure the return of Cambodians arrested in Thailand.
He also accused Thai officials of using violence and extorting money from those caught sneaking into Thailand to find jobs, saying two of his cousins were amongst those allegedly beaten.
Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said many Cambodians are being hired to take drugs into Thailand and that 12 Cambodians, including two sisters convicted in 2001 for drug smuggling, are currently awaiting execution in the country.
The Cambodian government and several NGOs sent letters to Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the Thai government in November asking for the sisters’ sentence to be reduced to life in prison, but Hor Namhong said they have not received a reply.
He said the ministry plans to discuss the issue with Thailand to see whether a new agreement, in which prisoners from the two countries could be exchanged and serve lighter sentences, might be reached.
Hor Namhong’s officials were not spared criticism themselves during the Assembly session.
Co-Minister of Interior Prince Norodom Sirivudh accused Cambodia’s ambassadors to Thailand and Malaysia of ignoring the plights of their countrymen.
“The Cambodian prisoners are being ignored,” he said.
The Thai Embassy declined comment on Wednesday.
Lawmaker Monh Saphan said the treaty with Laos will provide for the extradition of criminals who are sentenced to more than one year in prison. Besides Thailand, the government has a similar treaty with China.
(Additional reporting by Lee Berthiaume)