Cambodia's non-admission of Montagnards regrettable

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - UNHCR is seriously concerned over the non-admission of 63 Vietnamese Montagnards by Cambodian authorities in Rattanakiri Province on Saturday (2 March 2002).

This is clearly in contravention of international obligations under the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol to which the Royal Government of Cambodia is a signatory.

This regrettable action also runs contrary to the various assurances UNHCR has received from senior Cambodian authorities regarding temporary asylum and Cambodia's commitment to uphold its international obligations.

It seriously contravenes the spirit of - and has a negative impact on - the Tripartite Agreement recently signed in Phnom Penh by the governments of Cambodia and Viet Nam, and UNHCR.

UNHCR calls on the Royal Government of Cambodia to fulfil its international obligations, as well as to abide by the letter and spirit of the collaborative tripartite process.

It is also especially regrettable that on a day when 61 Montagnards voluntarily returned home, another 63 were denied temporary admission to Cambodia.