BANGKOK (21 January 2016) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said on Thursday
it was encouraged by the Cambodian Government’s pledge to assess the refugee claims of more than 170 Montagnards from Vietnam.
OHCHR calls upon the Royal Government to process all the asylum claims in a fair and efficient way, and in compliance with international standards.
Last October, the Cambodian Government said it would send 13 refugees back to Vietnam if UNHCR did not find them a third country to settle in by 10 January. At the time, OHCHR called on the Government to ensure that the rights of these 13 individuals be fully protected, and said their return to Vietnam would constitute refoulement which is prohibited under international law.
At the same time, the Cambodian Government also said that some 200 asylum seekers, whose claims for refugee status were
blocked, had until 6 February to return voluntarily to Vietnam or be forcibly sent back. Several asylum seekers subsequently returned to Vietnam voluntarily.
An Interior Ministry official told Cambodian media on Wednesday that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the
Interior approved the processing of the claims to asylum of 171 Montagnards who had been blocked from the process for up to a year. The 13 recognised refugees would be sent to the Philippines while awaiting resettlement in a third country.
OHCHR will continue to monitor the issue closely.