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ICC Note: The Cambodian government will deport 172 Montagnards back to Vietnam despite the fact that many of them will likely face religious and political persecution. Out of 179 Montagnards who have applied for refugee status, only seven of them have been approved. UNHCR has been advocating with the Cambodian government that another 29 Montagnards with strong asylum claims be allowed to depart for a third country. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether Cambodia will cooperate as Phnom Penh has previously ignored the international law.

10/05/2017 Cambodia (Gospel Herald) – A senior Interior Ministry official said yesterday that 172 Montagnards from Vietnam will be sent back to their country by Cambodian authorities after interviews with them revealed they do not meet all refugee status requirements.

Sok Phal, director-general of the Immigration Department, said that among 179 Montagnards who applied for asylum in Cambodia, only seven have been granted refugee status for a third country.

“For the Montagnards who are not eligible for refugee status, they will be sent back to their home country. When they return, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees also knows that they will not be imprisoned,” he said.

“They will go back to live with their families. I do not believe they will be imprisoned because that cannot be hidden from the international community.”

The Montagnards fled Vietnam after being subjected to years of persistent religious and political persecution, according to an earlier report by Human Right Watch.

Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, confirmed yesterday that seven Montagnard asylum seekers had been granted refugee status and left Cambodia last Friday.

“Seven Montagnards who were recognised as refugees departed Cambodia last Friday for another country,” she said via email.

“At the highest level, UNHCR has been advocating with the Cambodian government that another 29 Montagnards with strong asylum claims be allowed to depart for a third country. We are awaiting a response.”

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