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Cablegate: Screened-Out Montagnard Deported to Vietnam

VZCZCXRO1293
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1181 1780742
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270742Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6924
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0045
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1498

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 001181

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM AND EAP/MLS
BANGKOK ALSO FOR REFUGEE COORDINATOR HONNOLD
GENEVA FOR RMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL PHUM CB VM
SUBJECT: SCREENED-OUT MONTAGNARD DEPORTED TO VIETNAM

REF: PHNOM PENH 1006

1. (U) Cambodian Immigration police removed a screened-out
Montagnard, Y Ngoan Nie, from UNHCR's Site 2 in Phnom Penh on
June 27 and escorted him to the border for deportation to
Vietnam. Y Ngoan Nie was one of the 31 persons denied
refugee status that the embassy referred to the Department as
humanitarian cases on May 6 (reftel).

2. (U) Y Ngoan Nie's case was unusual in that he entered
Cambodia with a Vietnamese passport and obtained a valid visa
at the Thai-Cambodian border. He had apparently been hired
in Vietnam and worked in Malaysia as a contract laborer from
January 11, 2004 to December 11, 2005. He entered Cambodia
from Thailand on December 12, 2005 at Aranyaprathet/Poipet.
From Poipet he traveled directly to Phnom Penh to seek asylum
with UNHCR. UNHCR subsequently determined that he did not
qualify as a refugee.

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3. (SBU) We contacted Cambodian Immigration chief General
Sophana Meach late on the afternoon of June 26 after UNHCR
informed us of the impending deportation in order to inform
Sophana that Y Ngoan Nie was under consideration for
resettlement in the U.S. and to ask that the Cambodian
government (RGC) postpone a decision until the U.S. had
completed its review. Sophana responded with some
frustration that Y Ngoan Nie had no status as a refugee and
had overstayed his visa. Under these circumstances, the RGC
had the sovereign right to return him to Vietnam. UNHCR
subsequently told us that Cambodian Immigration said Y Ngoan
Nie had the option of paying $5.00 per day for his overstay
of almost six months or accept deportation. He reportedly
did not have the funds to pay the fine for overstaying his
visa. We also telephoned Sophana Meach the morning of June
27 when we learned the RGC was going ahead with the
deportation, but Sophana refused to reconsider the decision.

4. (SBU) UNHCR official Eldon Hager speculated to us that
the RGC decision to deport Y Ngoan Nie was a reaction to the
decision by 13 screened-out Montagnards to cancel their plans
to voluntarily return to Vietnam after they discovered that
they were on the list of persons under review by the U.S. for
resettlement. We have no way of knowing whether this is
true. General Sophana did not mention this factor in our
discussion with him. However, UNHCR told also us that it
believed that the deportation of Y Ngoan Nie was related to
his special circumstance in having a valid passport and
overstaying his visa. UNHCR said there has been no/no
indication that the RGC plans deportation of other
screened-out Montagnards.
MUSSOMELI

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