As border controls ease among ASEAN nations, Interior Minister Sar Kheng warned Tuesday the downside could be a freer flow of criminals and illegal immigrants.
Khmer Times/Ven Rathavong
Tuesday, 08 September 2015
PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – As border controls ease among ASEAN nations, Interior Minister Sar Kheng warned Tuesday the downside could be a freer flow of criminals and illegal immigrants.
At the end of this year, some tariff and visa barriers are to fall as ASEAN moves toward a limited common market.
“The complicated movement of people in the region could make some trouble for the immigration authorities to control,” Mr. Kheng said, adding that ASEAN member states will benefit from the integration, but immigration could become an issue.
“I have called for all director-generals of immigration and heads of consulates to continue working closely together, to make an effort to coordinate and push for tracking changes to immigration and crimes in the region,” he said, addressing a meeting here of ASEAN heads of Immigration Departments and of Consular Affairs Divisions of Foreign Ministries.
Cambodia and other ASEAN countries are moving toward economic integration to allow a freer flow of people, goods and services inside the 10-member group.
Mr. Kheng, who is also a deputy prime minister, proposed that ASEAN nations have a meeting to debate and harmonize police practices to deal with illegal immigration.
He mentioned a litany of potential problems: illegal border crossing, human trafficking, illegal migrant workers, fraudulent travel documents, and crossing borders to commit crimes, or to flee from arrest.
Last year, the government made a number of internal changes to increase the efficiency of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, Mr. Kheng said.
“This is a contribution of Cambodia to enhance immigration control, but this task requires close cooperation between the countries in the region and the world in order to achieve and ensure the security and safety of our people,” he said.
During the conference here, attendees will discuss the management of international border checkpoints, migrant workers, immigrants, and technology related to immigration tasks.
Sok Phal, director general of Cambodia’s immigration department, said ASEAN states are focusing on fraudulent passports. Mr. Phal said he hoped the member states would find ways to curb illegal travel between countries as well.