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Cablegate: Cambodian Government Agrees to Postpone Montagnard

VZCZCXRO0459
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1303 2891035
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161035Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1633

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 001303

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO POSTPONE MONTAGNARD
DEPORTATION


1. (SBU) The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) went above
and beyond expectation today when it decided to postpone
deportation of 20 Montagnards. The 20 individuals were
scheduled to be repatriated to Vietnam tomorrow, October 17,
because they had been denied by the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Service
(USCIS). However, the 20 individuals are still within a
USCIS 90-day window to submit new information on their cases
that could merit a change in their determination, called a
request for review.

2. (SBU) On October 16, the Ambassador sent a letter to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of State Long Visalo
requesting that the RGC refrain from deporting the
individuals until after the 90-day time limit expires on
November 22. The letter was also sent to Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong who gave
the final approval for the deportation postponement.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were cooperative and
sympathetic given the fact that the individuals on the
deportation list are no longer considered refugees by the
UNHCR and technically are subject to deportation under the
Cambodian immigration law, as well as the
Cambodia-Vietnam-UNHCR MOU. The RGC had already organized
logistics with Vietnamese authorities and the UNHCR for both
the departure from Cambodia and the repatriation into
Vietnam. All plans were postponed at the last minute.
Presumably, this caused some friction between the RGC and
Vietnamese counterparts.

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3. (SBU) Comment. This quick and cooperative action is a
welcome development. In part, we believe the Cambodians are
trying to be helpful as we move to implement the spring U.S.
decision not to process separately in Cambodia those
Montagnards screened out by UNHCR. As the immediate
situation has passed, we can now focus on ensuring that all
parties have the same understanding of how both Montagnards
who arrived before May 1 and after May 1 are to be treated.
End comment.
MUSSOMELI

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