Mar 16, 2010

CERD Lifts the Khmer Krom Question in Cambodia Review

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the eighth to thirteenth periodic report of Cambodia on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. In connection with the review, a hearing was held with the Khmer Krom.

Extracts from the Press Release refering to the situation of the Khmer Krom:


Oral Questions Raised by the Rapporteur and Experts

[...] The Committee was also concerned about the situation of the Khmer Krom, a people that the Cambodian Government considered to be historically Cambodian, but who had been annexed to Viet Nam in the redrawing of boundaries by the colonial powers. Apparently, many of these people wished to move to Cambodia because of alleged discrimination they faced in Viet Nam. However, the Cambodian Government would not grant these people citizenship unless they could show a Cambodian home address. That appeared to be a bit of a contradiction. [...]


Response by Delegation to Oral Questions

[...]  On the issue of the Khmer Krom, they were formally recognized as Cambodian citizens, without any discrimination whatsoever, the delegation continued. There were 82,000 Khmer Krom currently living in Cambodia and they were legally recognized as citizens. There were also over a dozen civil society organizations for the Khmer Krom, including those who worked to ensure that they enjoyed their political rights.

With regard to identification cards for Khmer Krom, there had been difficulties in providing those as they had not been aware of the official documents needed. Those requirements included that they had a permanent address in Cambodia; a birth certificate; and a court certificate that one of their parents had Khmer nationality, among others.[...]


Further Questions by Experts

Reverting to the Khmer Krom situation, an Expert reiterated concern that the implementation of the law, which viewed all Khmer Krom as Cambodian nationals, required a procedure that rendered the law ineffective.

PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the report of Cambodia, said he had some "breaking news" on the situation with the Khmer Krom: 19 Khmer Krom waiting since January 2010 had been denied their identification cards. It appeared that some of those decisions were being made at the local level, rather than at the State level. The central Government really needed to seize this issue and to embrace the position that it had stated – that the Khmer Krom were Cambodian.[...]


Replies by the Delegation

[...] Concerning the Khmer Krom, the delegation understood there were difficulties regarding the residency requirements and the need to submit a birth certificate to obtain identification cards. The delegation would bring the recommendation of the Committee to the Government in that regard.


Preliminary Concluding Observations

[...] The nationality issue for the Khmer Krom had also been discussed, and recommendations would be made in that area, Mr. Prosper said. Related to that would be recommendations concerning the equal access of the indigenous population to health and education. While the central Government might have the will and the intention to have those situations equalized, what was happening on the ground might not match that intention. It was also hoped that the economic benefits that Cambodia was experiencing could be channelled to help those populations.


Read the whole Press Release here.