The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Wednesday said it had stopped issuing some types of visa to Cambodians because Cambodia was not taking back citizens the U.S. wanted to deport.
The new policy is coming at a time that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to crack down on immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
The embassy said that visa restrictions were applied in accordance with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security rules applying to a country that refused to accept or was unreasonably delaying the return of its nationals.
“The Secretary of State must order consular officers to suspend issuing visas until informed by the Secretary of Homeland Security that the country in question has accepted the individuals.
“The embassy had discontinued issuing some visas for Cambodian foreign ministry employees above the rank of director general and their families, with limited exceptions,” the embassy said.
The argument over the return of Cambodians deported from the U.S. is only one of many between both countries, which has accused detained opposition leader, Kem Sokha, of plotting treason with U.S. support.
Earlier this year, Cambodia stopped accepting the deportation of its nationals who had been convicted of crimes in the U.S., saying it wanted to renegotiate a settlement agreement on human rights grounds.
Reacting to the visa announcement, government spokesman, Phay Siphan, said it showed that the U.S. did not recognise human rights.
“Cambodia still cooperates with the U.S, but while the U.S. tells the world that it respects human rights, in reality they don‘t.
“They just drop bombs to kill people,” he said.