A Change of Guard

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Wednesday 30 April 2014

Cambodia agrees "in principle" to resettle asylum seekers bound for Australia

Cambodia solution ... Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is expanding the "club" of nations willing to take asylum seekers bound for Australia.
Cambodia solution ... Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is expanding the "club" of nations willing to take asylum seekers bound for Australia. Photo: Andrew Meares
Cambodia has agreed "in principle" to resettle asylum seekers bound for Australia, after weeks of speculation as to whether the controversial deal would go ahead.
In principle, the government has agreed 
On Tuesday night, Cambodia's Secretary of State at the Foreign Affairs Ministry said the decision for the south east Asian country to resettle asylum seekers had been made.
Initial agreement to take asylum seekers ... from left, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen talks with Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Defence Minister Tea Banh.
Initial agreement to take asylum seekers ... from left, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen talks with Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Defence Minister Tea Banh. Photo: AP
"In principle, the government has agreed ... and we will do the work according to international standards," said Ouch Borith, Secretary of State at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Mr Borith met with a representative of the United Nations on Tuesday in Phnom Penh.
Human rights groups have condemned the Abbott government for seeking an agreement to send asylum seekers to Cambodia, one of South-East Asia's poorest countries, which has one of the worst human rights records in Asia.
The country is dependent on hundreds of millions of dollars a foreign aid, with Australia sending $US244 million to Phnom Penh over the past three years.
The United Nations refugee agency has warned resettlement countries are obliged to deliver education and labour rights and “not just safety.”
“Cambodia is a country that has its own set of difficulties, including economically,” Volker Turk, the UNHCR’s director of international protection,” said on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to speculate. The government has not contacted us on this . . . it’s not just about safety, it’s about fundamental human rights.” he said.
Mr Morrison has not publicly revealed details of the agreement.
But he said in a television interview on April 10 it would involve asylum seekers currently detained on the tiny South Pacific nation of Nauru.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said Cambodia’s capacity to take care of asylum seekers or refugees is low and Australia is shirking its international obligations.
“Uighurs from China or human rights activists from Vietnam can explain about Cambodia’s shoddy record towards refugees,” he said.
“This proposal is absolutely shameful and deserves public condemnation across the region, from Phnom Penh to Canberra, and by the UNHCR.”
The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri, who is visiting Cambodia said the United Nations would provide support.
"What we think is important is to note that Cambodia is well aware of its international commitment to human rights standards," Ms Pansieri said.
"To the extent there is any need for cooperation, we stand ready to provide support to ensure that standards are met."
The announcement comes as the 1177 asylum seekers in Nauru were told they would be given a temporary five-year visa on the island and would be given work rights for the same amount of time, but would not be permanently resettled there.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Fairfax Media last week he was trying to expand the "club" of nations willing to take refugees, regardless of their economic capacity, suggesting that Cambodia was a step closer to becoming a resettlement country that would accept refugees once the temporary resettlement has expired on Nauru.
"Without mentioning names, when you have a country that’s willing to be engaged in [resettlement], an experienced country that is willing to sponsor it and a third country that is a signatory country like Nauru that is also party to all of this ... That would seem to be a positive thing and something that should be encouraged."
Last Friday, the Interior Minister of Cambodia, Sar Kheng told The Phnom Pehn Post that nothing had been decided, and negotiations were still on the table.
“As of now we have not decided yet,” Kheng told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “It is being [considered], but no decision has been made at all.”
Cambodia, which in the 1970s and 1980s saw a huge exodus of refugees fleeing war and starvation, has long been criticised by international advocate groups for its questionable human rights record.
with Lindsay Murdoch and Reuters


Anonymous said...

If Cambodia is not allowed to accept the Asylum seeker refugees than the United Nations, the UNHCR, and all the International communities must be really stupid. They should know that prime minister hun sen, the one eye pirate of Cambodia, only kills Cambodian citizens and those that oppose his allies such as Vietnam and China.

Hun sen was planning to build the world tallest skyscraper, that should be sufficient for the world to know that the Kingdom of Cambodia is the land of opportunities for foreigners, particularly for illegal Vietnamese immigrants.
Don't waste your time try to locate the Uighurs deportees, most of them are killed by the Chinese government and the ones that are alive are probably be too traumatized to say anything good about the Cambodian government. My advice is to ask the illegal Vietnamese immigrants, there are hundred of thousands of Cambodia and no effort in locating them in cambodia. I'm sure they will tell you that Cambodia is the land of opportunity for them, not just safety, economically and educationally, they even have more rights than the khmer people.

Anonymous said...

Hundred of thousands of them (illegal Vietnamese immigrants) in cambodia

Anonymous said...

This is really stupid. How can a poor country that could not take care of its people consider accepting refugees. What kind of benefits will the refugees receive? Will they get monthly payments for their expenses or government housing? Where will they find jobs? This is like a poor family taking in a poor child. How can a poor family provide for a poor child adequately? Australia government should be ashamed. This will only do more harm to the refugees as they already experienced so much misery and hardship already. Now, they want to put the refugees in much a harder situation.

Anonymous said...

អាឆ្កែបីនាក់នេះវាចង់ធ្វើអី្វស្រាច់តែចិត្ត គឺអាបីសាច ហុ៊ន សែន ស ឬខ្មៅ េខង នឹង អាឆ្កែ កពា្ជះយួន ទាឬឆ្កែ បាញ់ ។

Anonymous said...

It's not just like a poor family, a dysfunctional family with the head of household (hun sen) being a ruthless father that has countless record of child abuse cases, is allowed to adopt innocent children into their home. It is going to catastrophic to the children, the un, unhcr, and especially the Australia must be crazy to belive that Cambodia can meet the minimum requirements of the unhcr standard to these refugees.

Anonymous said...